A provocative, inspiring account of our neglected American ideals and the people who are living them today—and restoring our nation’s dream
Patriotism has become a loaded word: one that is wielded against people with whom we might disagree, or whose cultural origins don’t match our own.
But our founding fathers—Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and others—saw patriotism as a dynamic force: an act of service, in an evolving nation that defined its purpose by offering all people a better way of life.
In Authentic Patriotism, author and award-winning journalist Stephen P. Kiernan explores the original ideals that have been lost in our current climate, where war and economic turmoil have eroded our sense of civic obligation. Kiernan describes “a nation adrift,” out of touch with its origins—and then introduces a range of inspiring people who have revived our national purpose by taking action:
• The out-of-work college graduate who led an economic and environmental renewal of her blighted home community.
• The retired executive who pioneered a revolutionary concept in health care for people without insurance.
• The minister who created a legendary choir, with the goal of uniting children of different races, genders, and classes in one voice.
• The family who donated their daughter’s heart, so that another might live.
These and other “New Americans” are profiled in a book that offers hope, ideas, examples, and practical resources for readers who want to renew the American spirit.
Kiernan (Last Rights) urges Americans to take on the challenges facing our society in this heartfelt look at everyday heroes who are reshaping society. Patriotism, Kiernan argues, transcends empty flag waving and political posturing, and lies instead in our service to each other and our willingness to sacrifice for the sake of our country and its people. For the author, authentic patriotism is found in the actions of people who take on our most profound social problems—problems the free market ignores in the absence of a clear profit to be had, and that our government has grown too slow moving and detached to effectively address. For example, retired pharmaceutical researcher Jack McConnell saw thousands of people in his community struggling without adequate health care and launched a free clinic that has grown into the Volunteers in Medicine program with 78 clinics in 24 states. Attorney Barry Scheck could not bear the injustice of innocent people languishing in prisons and founded the Innocence Project; today, hundreds of innocent prisoners have been exonerated. With these and other examples, the author constructs a stirring argument against apathy and for engagement. (May)