We still proudly wave Old Glory and wouldn't miss the Fourth of July parade and fireworks.

By Valerie Fraser Luesse
We still wave Old Glory proudly and wouldn't miss the fireworks of the Fourth of July parade.
| Credit: Logan Mock-Bunting/Getty

People south of the Mason Dixon have always been patriotic. No matter what our political persuasions might be. No matter how thrilled or dismayed we might be with Washington at any given moment. Somehow, we're able to separate American politics from American ideals, and the latter will always be a source of pride for us.

Some of our patriotism is rooted in World War II, when even Southern civilians saw the war effort "up close and personal." Bargain-priced land and an eager workforce made us a key component of the war machine, with munitions factories and shipyards springing up down South.

Also, Southern states are home to many, many military bases, which become vital parts of our communities. We feel a kinship to our men and women in uniform. On the Mississippi Gulf Coast, airmen and other personnel from Keesler Air Force Base helped with recovery efforts after two of the worst hurricanes ever to hit the continental United States, Camille in 1969 and Katrina in 2005. North Carolina's Fort Bragg is home to almost 55,000 troops and 14,000 civilian workers, while Camp Lejuene, also in North Carolina, provides a major training facility for Marines. The Navy's famous Blue Angels call Pensacola, Florida, home, and it's not unusual to see sailors in uniform on the popular waterfront boardwalk there. There's the Norfolk Naval Yard in Virginia, the Pentagon in D.C., and one of the most sprawling U.S. military installations anywhere, the Army's 214,968-acre Fort Hood, in Texas.

Proximity alone makes us attuned to the sacrifices and challenges faced by military families, and that makes us appreciate them all the more.

Of course, patriotism isn't the result of military strength but the reason for it—we believe in what our country stands for and are committed to defending it.

As the Fourth of July approaches, we asked our Facebook Brain Trust—why are you patriotic? Here's what they said. How about you?

"It's just Southern, proper, and American to be patriotic."

"When my fiancee got orders to go fight in Iraq for the 101st Airborne Division of the Army, we had 4 days to prep him—and to secretly get married. I spoke to him 4 times in the 8 months he was gone."

"My husband is 17 years in the Army. I'm patriotic because, despite our faults, we still enjoy more freedoms and opportunities than any other nation."

"My ancestors were immigrants, and each generation had more opportunities to pass on to the next. Neither of my parents had the opportunity to finish high school, but they were proud and grateful for the richness of their lives. And I am grateful for them."

"I have personally felt the sacrifice that many make for their loved ones to be in the military to protect our freedom, and I hope to never experience the loss of a loved one while they fulfill their commitment."

"We have the right to complain, argue, and share our opinions, even if no one else agrees (or cares). We may differ, but when it comes down to it, we are one big melting pot that is extremely rich with cultures from many lands. I'm proud to have a say, however small it is, in how our country is run. We are blessed beyond measure."

"During my school years, we were taught to be patriotic. We sang the National Anthem, recited the Pledge of Allegiance, and prayed for our country. My 12th-grade economics teacher told us it was not only our duty, but our privilege to do so. I know we have the greatest country and more freedoms than most. And I love the USA."

"I'm patriotic because I love my country. I am proud to be American. I am free because our military sees to it. God bless America,  our military, and our firefighters, policemen, and first responders, as well."

"I was in 2nd grade the year of our bicentennial. We learned every patriotic song, recited the Pledge of Allegiance every morning, and even said the Lord's Prayer in a Birmingham City School. Many people in my family have served in the military, so we always have an active military or veteran at our gatherings on patriotic days, and that person always leads the blessing before we eat. It breaks my heart when I see people disrespect our flag or our country."

"I am patriotic because Americans have died to keep me free since the Revolutionary War was won in 1776. My step-father-in-law fought in WWI, my father in WWII, and my husband served during the Vietnam conflict, where some of our friends gave their lives. Freedom isn't free, and each time I look at our flag it reminds me of the sacrifices that have been made to allow us to live in the greatest country in the world. You can tell I am passionate about our country and what we enjoy here. May God continue to bless the USA!"

"I'm patriotic because I was raised right! When my daddy was 17 years old, he joined the United States Marine Corps and fought for our freedom. I was born in a Naval hospital and grew up on a military base. I was taught in school and at home to respect my country. Living on base, there was a certain time of day when the flag was lowered. EVERYONE stopped whatever they were doing—driving, walking, running—until the flag came down.

"God bless the USA! What an incredible experiment."

"I'm patriotic . . . BECAUSE."

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We love stories about dreams coming true, and as the Fourth of July approaches, we're thankful to live in a place where it can happen.