America is too patriotic

Patriotism in the USA: Dealing with national pride

Published on July 18, 2019

Americans love their country. The phrase "I'm proud to be American" is deeply rooted in the people of the United States. This sentence may sound daunting to you at first. Even so, you shouldn't make the mistake of automatically equating patriotism with nationalism in the United States.

Liberal and cosmopolitan Americans who admire and appreciate other cultures and peoples can also be staunch patriots. They take pride in the idea that America embodies and the community to which they feel they belong. Regardless of whether you are going to the USA as a school pupil, student, au pair or to work - you will encounter ubiquitous national pride in a wide variety of situations. We'll tell you what to expect and how to deal with it.

Celebrating being American

Unlike in many European countries, holidays in the USA usually have no religious background, but rather remind of important events in the history of the country.

The Memorial Day and the Veterans Day commemorate, for example, the fallen soldiers who defended their homeland and the end of the First World War. Most of these holidays are celebrated with parades and festivals.

The independence of the United States from England on July 4th 1776 is also celebrated in a big way. On this day there are colorful fireworks, concerts, barbecues and of course "Stars and Stripes" as far as the eye can see. If you're in the US in July, you shouldn't miss a real 4th of July party!

Dress in the national colors of blue, white and red. Here, more is more! What would often be unthinkable in Europe is commonplace in the United States. The stars, stripes and national colors are hard to miss, especially on the holidays.

Even if you don't want to throw yourself into a patriotic outfit - be sure to celebrate with us and take these celebrations as a chance to get to know the culture of the USA better and to experience it first hand!

Oh, say, can you see ...

The soundtrack to patriotism is provided by the national anthem "The Star-Spangled Banner", which means something like "the star-studded banner" in German. It is played whenever the opportunity arises. At events, sporting events, at the beginning of the school day - you too will soon be able to sing along.

How to behave while playing the national anthem is like much in the world United States Code, more precisely in Title 36, and reads in the translation as follows:

  • When the flag is up
    • all those present except those in uniform should turn to the flag and place their right hand on their heart;
    • men who are not in uniform must remove their headgear with their right hand and hold it on their left shoulder so that their hand is over their heart;
    • uniformed people should salute from the first to the last note of the hymn.
  • If no flag is hoisted, all present should turn in the direction of the music and behave as if the flag was being displayed.

Even if the enthusiasm for the anthem often seems strange to many Germans, non-US citizens are also asked to stand up. You don't have to put your hand on your heart and nobody expects you to sing along. But you should definitely get up, because that alone requires respect for American culture.

Pledge of Allegiance

"I pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all."

The so-called "Pledge of Allegiance" is the oath of allegiance to the flag of the United States. It is part of everyday life in an American high school and is usually recited every morning. Similar to the national anthem, the students get up in their classrooms, turn to the flag, put their right hand on their hearts and say the two-line.

At first, this too may seem strange and strange to you. After a while you will get used to it and notice that the saying conveys a feeling of cohesion and community. As a non-US citizen, you are of course not required to swear allegiance to the American flag. Nonetheless, getting up is a must here too!

Patriotism in the USA - and you?

A year abroad is primarily about cultural exchange and getting to know the country and its people. The patriotism that is deeply anchored in American culture is simply part of it.

See your time in the States as an opportunity to experience the strong sense of community. The extent to which you want to participate is ultimately up to you to decide. But never forget to be respectful of your host country!