There is much discussion, and argument, regarding proper respect of the symbols of the United States. However, there is far too little understanding of what genuine patriotism, grounded in the values of the Founders, actually means.
Dr. Benjamin Rush, writing in 1786, made very clear both the origins of the country and the hope for its future that first generation of leaders held dear:
The American war is over; but this far from being the case with the American revolution. On the contrary, nothing but the first act of the drama is closed. It remains yet to establish and perfect our new forms of government, and to prepare the principles, morals, and manners of our citizens for these forms of government after they are established and brought to perfection.
Writing earlier, in 1768, John Dickinson had warned against complacency regarding the preservation of freedom and democracy:
Nothing is more certain that the forms of liberty may be retained, when the substance is gone.
And in 1772, Joseph Warren issued a call to posterity, to future Americans, to be ever-vigilant in defense of the country's first principles:
Stain not the glory of your worthy ancestors. but like them, resolve never to part with your birthright, be wise in your deliberations, and determined in your exertions for the preservation of your liberties. Follow not the dictates of passion, but enlist yourselves under the sacred banner of reason; use every method in your power to secure your rights.