For almost 250 years, the world’s most important experiment in self-governing continues to provide a shining example of what a republic can achieve. While the United States has gone through many difficult times – current times included – true patriotic people know how important the country is for the future.

At no time of year is the love and respect for this country more apparent than on the Fourth of July. It’s a special holiday for a special country. The very divisions that have always existed in America indicate how special the U.S. really is. The country allows differing viewpoints, and that’s no small thing when you consider governments throughout world history that suppressed free speech (and those that still do).

It’s why true patriots love this country, and why they show appreciation for those who fought for it. That’s one of the many factors that make for a true patriot.

What Does True Patriotism Look Like?

Everyone has a different point of view when it comes to showing patriotism. Again, that’s one of the special things about the U.S. But here are some ways that patriotic people show their love of country.

Honoring the First Amendment

Suppression of ideas and free speech is the hallmark of an autocratic nation. True patriots can listen and consider ideas from other people, even if they don’t agree with them. They live by the idea, “I don’t agree with what you say, but I will fight for your right to say it.”

Respecting Pillars of Democracy

The United States is a republic built on a set of “democratic pillars” that include things such as free speech, free and fair elections, rule of law, and freedom of religion. That last one – freedom of religion – is one of the reasons that Europeans came to North America in the first place. Freedom from persecution for your personal beliefs is a foundation of the country.

Respecting Traditions and Institutions

As much as people might get angry with politicians, a democratic system remains “the worst form of government – except for all the others that have been tried,” as Winston Churchill once said. The separation of powers – executive, legislative and judicial – remains a strong foundation for the country. There’s also a strong respect among patriotic people for traditional symbols, especially the nation’s flag.

Respecting Those Who Defend Liberty

There’s no greater sacrifice than to join the military and fight for the country. Patriotic people celebrate Veterans Day and always extend a helping hand to those who have served in the Armed Forces when they return to civilian life.

Patriotic Ways to Celebrate Fourth of July

People have many options for showing their patriotism on July 4th. Attending a local Fourth of July parade is fun, especially for the youngest members of the family. They also provide a chance to talk with neighbors and people in the community. A strong community is the hallmark of a sound republic and something true patriots honor and support.

Fireworks displays are also a classic way to celebrate. Fireworks have been a part of July 4 celebrations since the very first one in 1777. Some believe this is because John Adams, a Founding Father and the second president, wrote in a letter to his wife, “[This day] ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

Traditional barbecues and backyard parties are also popular because, once again, they bring people together and show the community spirit that unites the country.

However you choose to celebrate, a patriotic celebration on July 4th means not only that you love the country, but also believe in the principles upon which it was founded. That’s what makes for a true patriotic person – and a great Fourth of July.