John Kline on True Patriotism

On February 22, 1849, John Kline heard the distant roar of cannon. It would be another 12 years before the American Civil War would begin. These cannon were merely celebrating Washington’s birthday. On that day, John wrote the following in his diary:

I have a somewhat higher conception of true patriotism than can be represented by the firing of guns which give forth nothing but meaningless sound. I am glad, however, that these guns report harmless sound, and nothing more. If some public speakers would do the same, it might be better both for them and their hearers. My highest conception of patriotism is found in the man who loves the Lord his God with all his heart and his neighbor as himself. Out of these affections spring the subordinate love for one’s country; love truly virtuous for one’s companion and children, relatives, and friends; and in its most comprehensive sense it takes in the whole human family. Were this love universal, the word patriotism, in its specific sense, meaning such a love of one’s country as makes its possessors ready and willing to take up arms in its defense, might be appropriately expunged from every national vocabulary.
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