Did our Patriotism go to America? Featured

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The UK and patriotism have always had an interesting relationship. At one point in history, not too long ago, we were the most patriotic nation on earth. We’d fly our flag and sing ‘God Save The Queen’ at any given opportunity. Now, for many of us, putting aside the die-hard royalists, our patriotism is wavering, with a lot of us showing no love for our country at all. We’re not half as proud to be British as we used to be, and surely this can’t be good for our image as a country. But with the Olympics just around the corner, this could be an opportunity for this to change. After all, the important people are saying 2012 is the year to be proud to be British.

Now, if you hop on a plane and make the transatlantic leap over to the good old US of A, you’ll see the almost vomit-inducing level of patriotism that the Americans love to throw themselves into. Pledging allegiance to their flag and blaring out ‘Star Spangled Banner’ at any event that more than 10 people attend. And of course, no house is considered complete in the USA without the stars and stripes blowing in the wind outside its front porch.

It seems that the USA has somewhat stolen our pride. It seems as though there’s a correlation - as we become less patriotic, the USA finds yet another reason to blow their own trumpets and remind us what else we have to be jealous about besides their weather.  Spending the 4th July in Alabama really is amazing. Vulgar though it may be, this nation has an entire day essentially dedicated to celebrating how great their country is. They say it’s something to do with some war they won a couple of hundred years ago, but really, we all know they just like celebrating themselves.

So what is it that makes us Brits so avert to showing pride? With the Olympics starting so soon, we can find a way to make foreigners believe we love our country. And people will say they love living here. So perhaps we need to take a page from the Americans’ book. Why don’t we show the kind of pride Americans do in the UK? Because we’re born miserable. Britain is the home of cynicism. Americans are bought up being told their country is the best whilst we’re bought up to complain about the weather. It really feels as though the UK isn’t the top of anything anymore. Aston Martin isn’t owned by Brits now, the Germans managed to take that from us.  Cadbury’s? Americans got their claws on them also.

Whilst I was out stateside, thousands of people gathered to watch a spectacular firework display on the beach, whilst Lee Greenwood’s ‘God Bless The USA’ boomed out the radio speakers (YouTube that song. It’s hilarious). The whole purpose of this? Simply to remind them that they are American and they should celebrate it. I’m ashamed to say it, but honestly, it left me wishing I was American. Whilst Americans’ patriotism is admirable and at times, jaw-dropping, there is no doubt that there is a vast level of vulgarity in their patriotism. In JFK Airport, whilst disembarking the plane, a teenager who was obviously excited to be home bellowed out “America – I LOVE this country!” and left several people feeling slightly confused and bewildered. Naturally, being British, I was left with an immediate hatred towards this brash, loud child.

Thankfully though, in Britain, we do have a select handful of institutions and traditions that we can safely say are worth letting the world know we’re proud about. Last year’s royal wedding was one of the greatest displays of patriotism in 20 years on this planet, whilst the Diamond Jubilee reassured us all that, although we may try to hide it from time to time, we all love our Liz. When the Brits do patriotism, they do it a damn sight better than anyone else, albeit a very rare sight. We store up all our patriotism then let it explode in one big red, white and blue explosion of Britishness.

And the Olympics could be the ultimate patriotism-booster as millions flock to London from around the world. If we ignore the recent faux-pas which saw US athletes get lost on a coach to the Olympic park for four hours, and the massive security mess-up that has plagued the run-up to the games, then we’re all set for the world to see what the UK is capable of. And with a squad of athletes larger than any other country’s this year, we’re starting off in pole position.

It would be nice to see people have a more optimistic attitude towards the country they’re living in. If we all loved Britain as much as Americans loved America, we’d be in much better stead.

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