The first sentence of The Nation‘s prospectus, dated July 6, 1865, promised "the maintenance and diffusion of true democratic principles in society and government," surely a patriotic sentiment, as was the magazine’s name.

Since that time The Nation has attempted to represent and give voice to the best of American values and culture and has steadfastly resisted all efforts through the years to brand dissent as unpatriotic.

The Nation has always agreed with the eminent historian (and Nation editorial board member) Eric Foner, who wrote in the days after 9/11, "At times of crisis, the most patriotic act of all is the unyielding defense of civil liberties, the right to dissent and equality before the law for all Americans."

Ten years before the 9/11 attacks, in the summer of 1991 during the aftermath of the first Gulf War, the magazine published a forum exploring the question of what is patriotism — Is there a patriotism that is not nationalistic? How does the historic internationalism of the liberal left relate to the concept of patriotism? What do you value in the traditions of your country? Why is patriotism often seen as the province of the right?

Fourteen leading writers, progressives and thinkers weighed in, including Jesse L. Jackson, Molly Ivins, Natalie Merchant, Richard Falk, Richard A. Cloward & Frances Fox Piven, Mary McGrory, Stephen F. Cohen and current Nation Editor and Publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel. Their illuminating answers encapsulate a predicament still facing progressives: how to express love for one’s country while forthrightly combating its numerous defects. 

Read the sadly, still relevant forum and use the comments field below to let us know how you personally define patriotism. I’d also love to see links for videos of what you consider some of your favorite patriotic music.

Happy Fourth!