Frank Miller's 9/11 essay. In case you don't know who he is, he writes comic books. Not funny comics, not for young kids comics. Comics with real bad people who do nasty things because they are evil.
He writes about growing up and not understanding the patriotism of his WWII veteran parents or the view point of the hippy high school teachers who taught him more about John Lennon than Thomas Jefferson.
Then 9/11/2001 came along, and he lives in New York City.
...and thousands of my neighbors were ruthlessly incinerated -- reduced to ash. Now, I draw and write comic books. One thing my job involves is making up bad guys. Imagining human villainy in all its forms. Now the real thing had shown up. The real thing murdered my neighbors. In my city. In my country. Breathing in that awful, chalky crap that filled up the lungs of every New Yorker, then coughing it right out, not knowing what I was coughing up.
For the first time in my life, I know how it feels to face an existential menace. They want us to die. All of a sudden I realize what my parents were talking about all those years.
Patriotism, I now believe, isn't some sentimental, old conceit. It's self-preservation. I believe patriotism is central to a nation's survival. Ben Franklin said it: If we don't all hang together, we all hang separately. Just like you have to fight to protect your friends and family, and you count on them to watch your own back.
So you've got to do what you can to help your country survive. That's if you think your country is worth a damn. Warts and all.
Go read the whole thing. It's worth it.