I welcome Will Fessenden’s thoughts on the nature of patriotism (July 4). His first notion stated that “to be patriotic is to be respectful of those who have spoken or performed a deed in the effort to protect our liberties or symbols of our freedom.”

I wish he had kept to this sturdy, definitional foundation, but he got all squishy on me.

The notion that patriotism centers on supporting “the values that you believe our country was founded on” invites a measure of subjectivism that renders any clear definition of patriotism impossible to achieve.

The clear and well-defined essence of America lies in founding documents that established broad spheres of personal liberty and created a limited government that must respect those liberties.

My personal values serve as an after-market add-on; they survive in the liberty past patriots created and preserved for them.

Good citizenship involves using this precious gift — liberty of conscience — to express values openly in the public arena. Patriotism salutes and celebrates an America whose establishment the founders intended as a means of realizing and preserving those liberties.

Patriotism can focus on objective core realities, not lose itself in subjective personal values.

American patriots, whatever their personal values, look back through a shared history to a common set of documents that established our right to hold, share, even enact, our often-clashing values.

I like Fessenden’s first notion of patriotism and I join him in a salute to our country’s tradition of personal freedom.

Lenny Hoy, Greenwood

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