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Minnesota Veterans Explain What The Word 'Patriotism' Means To Them

BLAINE, Minn. (WCCO) -- The word "patriot" and what it means as has been top of mind for many this month. Rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol a week and a half ago. After that event, President Donald Trump said Americans must have a "renewed emphasis on the civic value of patriotism."

Some Minnesota veterans say the word has changed meanings over the decades, as has the country. Korean Veteran Tom Ryan and Vietnam Veteran Jerry Miron were in Blaine for the dedication of five new war memorials at Veterans Memorial Park. The new memorials remember those who fought in World War I, World War II, The Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the War on Terror.

Ryan thinks now, more than ever, we need to remember the sacrifices so many gave for this country.

"There's a lot of things I think the young people need to learn about the sacrifices that they made," he said.

It's a reminder from the past, during a tumultuous time in American history.

"This country is broken right now: worse than I can ever remember," Ryan reflected.

That divide was put on display Jan. 6, when rioters and protestors stormed the U.S. Capitol. Many in that group called themselves patriots. Ryan wholeheartedly disagrees.

"These people that did damage in Washington are not patriots, I can tell you that," he said.

Miron agrees.

"Does a patriot really do that? A patriot doesn't do that. A patriot is one that honors the country and honors other people that are out there and they don't take the law into their own hands and do whatever they want to do," he said.

Miron has his own definition of patriotism.

"I think it's putting the country before you, because as a patriot you are putting your life on the line is what you are doing," Miron said.

Miron says the definition of the word changing, and not in a good way.

"Years ago, a patriot was someone who had fought for this country and now, I'm wondering in my mind if its slipping a little more," he said.

Now is as important time as any to remember what these memorials stand for. It's that patriotism than can help to unite Americans.

The war monuments at Veterans Memorial Park in Blaine are five of seven already built. There are plans to build 10 more, and will be built as money becomes available.


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