Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, June 19, 2024

One way to revitalize American patriotism

Country music can unite the nation and emphasize American values.

morgan wallen.jpeg

Morgan Wallen is pictured in Fort Carson, Colo. in 2019.

Many Americans today actively display hatred for the country we call home. It has resulted in people like soccer star Megan Rapinoe, who shamefully knelt during the national anthem while representing the U.S. on the international stage and continuously bashes American policies, even though the country’s citizens have contributed to Megan’s success at every turn (via employment, endorsements, etc.). Though Rapinoe is a far cry from the majority of Americans, the trend of Americans loathing their own country has become more prominent. So what can we do to revive American patriotism? I feel that the prominent themes in country music can show us the way.

One key theme I have noticed in country music is gratitude for our veterans. American military veterans are perhaps the bravest Americans; they selflessly give their all for a higher purpose and make countless sacrifices for the good of the country. The famous Zac Brown Band song “Chicken Fried” (2005), which celebrates America, includes a notable third verse, in which Zac Brown sings “I thank God for my life / And for the stars and stripes / May freedom forever fly, let it ring / Salute the ones who died / The ones that give their lives.” According to Brown, the verse was added right after the Sept. 11 attacks, a moment when Americans came together in a way that they arguably haven’t since. Brown added how he realized “how fortunate we are to be free” and that “there is a cost that other people have paid for us to be able to … enjoy all the simple things.” I love these lyrics as they encapsulate what every American ought to believe and hold dear: immense gratitude for our country’s heroes.

A song with a similar theme is “There’s a Star-Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere,” written by Paul Roberts and Shelby Darrell and sung by Elton Britt. The song was released in 1942 as a patriotic anthem to show support for American troops stationed abroad during World War II. The lyrics of the song focus on a man who loves his country and wants to join “Uncle Sam’s great heroes” to fight against the Axis powers but can’t because of his disability. This song speaks to the unity that ran through America’s core during World War II, something that ought to be rekindled in today’s America. Teaching our history and the values veterans fought for and continue to fight for is essential for reinvigorating discourse around American patriotism.

Another theme I have extrapolated from country music is friendship and hometown roots, which are essential American values. Many of today’s prominent country artists are from small towns in the South and Midwest. These artists often sing about their hometown friends and the memories made with them when they were younger. For example, Morgan Wallen’s song “Still Goin Down” (2020) has been described a love song to the town that raised him.” In the song, Wallen describes Friday nights in his small hometown and assures the listener that “it's still goin’ down out in the country.” Thomas Rhett explores a similar topic in his song “Country Again” (2021), which depicts the singer longing to return to his Georgia roots after a long period of touring. In these songs, Wallen and Rhett both reminisce about the good old days. For me, these songs serve as a commentary not only about life in small-town America but also about America itself. Spending time with friends, listening to music and occasionally cracking open a beer symbolize just some of what America should be all about instead of continually fueling the fire of political division.

I am discouraged by the current divide in our great country. The fact that it took three weeks to elect a speaker of the House, for instance, is a metaphor for the broader condition of the country. Country music and the values it represents are one way we can put more emphasis on what makes us American. Respecting our veterans and embracing small-town values are just the beginning. We can’t let political division and anti-American discourse sever the ties that bind us together as a nation.