There are those who think of patriotism as synonymous with theunthinking jingoism and the love-it-or leave-it platitudes so oftenheard in right-wing talk radio circles. But of course, mindlessflag-waving and blind loyalty have nothing to do with patriotism.

With another July 4 upon us, it seems important to pay tribute tothe true patriots among us — those who sacrifice time and energyto protect the rights and freedoms that, sadly, have been chippedaway at for years under this lawless administration.

Here are few sweet examples:

*True patriots are those who went to DC last week to participatein the Day of Action to Restore Law and Justice – a rally in whichthousands of activists joined with organizations and lawmakers toprotest the roll back of basic freedoms in recent years such asillegal wiretapping, The Patriot Act, The Military Commissions Actand the institutionalization of torture.

*True Patriots are those, such as the people at Free Exchange onCampus, who are fighting everyday to protect freedom of speech oncollege campuses, who are intimidated and threatened by thevitriolic campaigns of Campus Watch, David Horowitz and others.

*Russ Feingold is another example of a true patriot, with hiscourageous (sometimes lonely) defense of our rights and his work totry and end this war and occupation. It is only fitting that hisPolitical Action Committee is called the Progressive Patriots Fund.

*Camilo Mejia, the first combat veteran to denounce the war asillegal and refuse to participate in it any further, is anothertrue patriot. In a recent article for the Progressive he writes:"Some Americans back home believe they are being patriotic, believethey are supporting the troops, when they back President Bush andhis conduct of this war. But patriotism must mean something loftierthan just assenting to the occupant of the Oval Office … I submitthat being patriotic means opposing this war."

There is much at stake on this Independence Day. The core Americanvalues–the very freedoms we like to think define us–have beenweakened or stolen from us in the aftermath of 9-11. Meanwhile weare mired in a brutal and costly war. But there is reason forhope. For in the face of all of this, and in the face of censureand fear, our country is filled with patriots, who are fightingeveryday to make ours a more just and free society, to preserve ourrights and to end this war. And it is those patriots we celebratethis Fourth of July.

Sweet Victories is a regular feature –co-authored with MichaelCorcoran