By Tiairra Parker, Alabama News Center
Hearts beat more red, white and blue in Alabama than almost anywhere else in the nation, according to a new report.
WalletHub, a website that uses data to rank cities and states in a number of categories, found that Alabama is the eighth “Most Patriotic State in America” for 2016. To identify the country’s patriotic hotspots, WalletHub compared the 50 states using 12 key metrics, such as military engagement, voting habits and civic education.
Alabama ranks No. 1 in civic education because the state requires students to pass a social studies test to graduate from high school. Alabama ranks seventh in the percentage of residents who enlist in the military and 13th in the number of veterans per capita. The state also ranks in the top 20 for volunteer hours per resident.
Patriotism can be a complex subject and can have different meanings depending on the person.
“I think patriotism is being proud of where you are from and knowing where you are from,” said David Swatzell, a Birmingham musician. “ But, also that doesn’t mean thinking that everything is perfect.”
Patriotism may be most apparent among those who serve in the military.
“Patriotism is being loyal to your country, and if someone wants to risk their lives for their country, then they are the ultimate patriot,” said Isaiah Dysart, a dental receptionist. “Both of my parents were in the military, which, to me, is patriotism.”
Whether it’s men and women sacrificing their lives in the Armed Forces, people exercising their right to vote or simply buying American-made goods, there are many expressions of patriotism. This Fourth of July weekend will likely be this year’s largest showing of patriotism in the U.S.
The American flag has always been America’s primary symbol of patriotism. Tidmore Flags was founded in Montgomery in 1963 and operated in Birmingham before moving to South Carolina last year.
“Flag sales continue to be strong,” said Eric Pfeiffer, manager of Tidmore Flags. “I think Alabama is one of the most patriotic states and Tidmore sells a lot of flags to the state of Alabama.”
According to a WalletHub expert, patriotism is not about blindly following the flag.
“A good patriot would be someone who not only embraces American core values but also is comfortable with the idea that these values can, in practice, remain in conflict and subject to disagreement,” said Kevin Esterling, a University of California professor.