Americans show strong patriotism on July 4 and World Cup
Updated: 2014-07-09 07:26
By Chen Weihua (China Daily USA)
If patriotism has long been said to be outdated, that does not seem to be true among Americans, especially over the last few weeks.
This past July 4th weekend saw many Americans walking on the streets in Washington wearing caps, T-shirts, pants, shoes, mini-shirts with stars and stripes patterns.
In the hot sun, people crowded both sides of Constitution Avenue on the morning of July 4 to celebrate the annual parade.
At the National Archives, the 238th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence was marked by fife and drum music, dramatic historical readings, archives display, family activities and entertainment, drawing crowds from around the US.
The 8pm concert on Capitol Hill was televised live but still drew huge crowds with singing, dancing and fanfare. A few minutes before 9pm, everyone stood for a stirring rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner.
The 30-minute fireworks display starting at 9pm brought the day's celebration to its peak. Not only was the National Mall packed, Meridian Hill about two miles north of the Washington Monument was also filled with people watching the show.
Bars and restaurants in the Adams Morgan neighborhood also took the opportunity to cash in on the holiday by promoting a "red, white and brew (blue)" drink menu.
While July 4 has been a time to show patriotism, the World Cup being held in Brazil has also provided an opportunity to show your nation's colors over the past few weeks.
When the World Cup was held in the US in 1994, Time magazine reserved its soccer coverage only for its international edition — not its US edition — because the editors believed Americans were not interested in the sport.
That has changed dramatically in 20 years. Bars and restaurants catering to customers watching the matches were fully packed, with fans, some with US flags draped over their shoulders, chanting: "USA! USA! USA!"
In a July 1 afternoon press conference at the Foreign Press Center in Washington, Ben Rhodes, the White House deputy national security advisor, mentioned he wanted to watch the match that evening. The US team played well but was knocked out by Belgium.
President Barack Obama clearly was also caught up in the growing soccer mania in the US and the patriotic sentiment during the games. He called goalkeeper Tim Howard and team captain Clint Dempsey last Wednesday, commending the team for making the country proud, although he did not use the word "patriotism".
But patriotism has been a catch phrase for many US politicians in recent years. Just hours before the US team lost to Belgium, Obama addressed a crowd on the Georgetown Waterfront, with Key Bridge as a backdrop, calling for "economic patriotism" or bipartisan action to boost US growth.
Over the years, conservatives have tried to question Obama's patriotism, including a photo taken years ago of then Senator Obama not putting his hand over his heart as the national anthem played.
"Made in USA" and "Buying American" has been used by both corporations and consumers to show their loyalty and patriotism to the nation.
Travelling across the world, people tend to see more Americans display their national flags outside their houses than do people in other nations.
Teaching of patriotism might not be part of the school curriculum in most American schools, but patriotism is steeped in American society, whether in museums, sports stadiums or on the streets.
On the contrary, while education of patriotism has been strong in China since the 1950s, it has not been emphasized much in the school system in the past few decades as China has opened itself to the outside world and embarked on ambitious economic reforms. However, many museums, memorials and historic sites are still on the list of "patriotism education bases".
A Chinese law on the national flag formulated in 1990 prohibits the use of the flag as a trademark or for advertisement purposes. So it's rare to find the Five-Starred Red Flag on T-shirts, unless it's for national sports teams. Having the Five-Star Red Flag pattern on pants and slippers would almost be regarded as profane in China.
While no recent surveys on the subject could be found, a 2009 survey conducted by People's Tribune magazine showed that 75.4 percent of college students polled said they were proud to be Chinese citizens.
Meanwhile, despite the widespread display of patriotism in American society, a recent survey from the Pew Center on June 26 showed that a clear majority considers the US to be one of the greatest countries in the world, but the view that the US is exceptional — standing above all other countries in the world — has declined 10 points since 2011.