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Tufts students marching in 1969

Those of us who were part of the anti-war movement in the ’60s have tended to be a little cynical about our country. We wouldn’t be caught dead waving a flag, much less describe ourselves as patriotic. After the Vietnam War ended, we retained our cynicism; we kept track of what our country did throughout the Reagan years — all the “little wars” that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and destroyed whole countries. We knew that the CIA destabilized elected governments in other countries in order to install dictators who would provide a favorable climate for our economic interests. We saw how our media disseminated propaganda during the Iraq War, and how politicians made hay out of a national tragedy on 9/11.

We saw it all, and we protested — constantly. We could do that, because — at least until January 20 of this year— we had a functioning democracy which allowed us the freedom to be critical. It was a freedom we exercised without constraint.

I don’t regret my participation in any of the movements I have been part of, and I wouldn’t take back a single one of my actions. But now, when I am confronted with the decimation of Constitutional rights, the evisceration of democratic processes, the shameful, self-serving embrace of neo-fascism by an entire political party, and the deliberate erosion of trust in the institutions that were designed to protect us from autocracy, I am pleased to discover that I am a patriot.

I may not wave a flag at the next Fourth of July, but I’m sure as hell going to protect what it stands for — now that I finally know.

About the author: Erica Verrillo has published five books, four with major publishers and one on her own. She blogs about the publishing world, posts useful tips on how to get an agent, lists agents who are looking for clients as well as publishers accepting manuscripts directly from writers, explains how to market and promote your work, how to build your online platform, how to get reviews, how to self-publish, and where to find markets for your work on Publishing … and Other Forms of Insanity

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