A man belongs to this world before he begins to ask if it is nice to belong to it. He has fought for the flag, and often won heroic victories for the flag long before he has ever enlisted. To put shortly what seems the essential matter, he has a loyalty long before he has any admiration.
A man learns to love his country who has learned to love his family. A man cares for his family first—and not because of strong feeling merely, but because he has sworn an oath to God and his neighbors to stand by his bride, and to protect, with his very life, the offspring of their union. And to those before whom he swore the oath, he owes also a special duty to protect them from such harm that it is in his control to avoid. For these, a man's first, tiny platoons, he has fought and won heroic victories. In memory of these victories, and of his fallen brothers, he has erected monuments, and taught his children to remember them and to honor them.
Chief among these monuments is the flag under which they fought, and died. The flag is a symbol of first loyalties. A man will fight and even die for his own country, but he owes no supererogatory duty to equate the interests of foreigners with those he is sworn and bound to protect. The world is God's charge, not man's, who, frail and impotent, is charged instead with the modest task to care for those around him. For he who will not be satisfied with saving less than the whole world, would make himself God—and in so doing would he not only defy the creator of the world, but would commit acts of treachery against his fellow man: by casting those in his charge out of their homes, away from their friends, and into strange lands who know them not.
No man learns to fight and die for his country from some head of state. If ever such a thing has happened in history, it was an unnatural thing. For no one ought to persuade anyone to fight and die, for any country or for any person. Yet, one who is not willing to fight and die for his own country is a refugee; one who would not die for his family is an orphan. It is in the fortress of the family, and through campaigns with friends, that one learns the parent of all virtues, which is love. For greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. He who loves, fights.
And so it has come to pass that those who detest fighting, detest love also.
Happy Independence Day, my fellow Americans, my friends!