The dictionary definition of patriotism is absolute love, commitment, faithfulness and sacrifice for one’s nation. But does that mean that one must be willing to fight the country’s battles, as well as follow and trust the jurisdiction of the government, with no questions or controversy? To me, patriotism means to put all of my effort into making a difference in my nation that symbolizes the foundation of liberty it was built upon.

Independence Day represents an act of nationalism that made an incredible impact on a whole country, the United States of America, and perhaps the world. This national holiday celebrates a document that freed America from its unwanted connection with England and the power King George III had over them. That document was the Declaration of Independence, which was written by Thomas Jefferson and officially signed by fifty-six men, including Jefferson, who all represented the thirteen colonies.

This written proclamation did not stop its effect after America gained independence, though. It influenced the 1789 French Revolution, Abraham Lincoln and his Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement for African-Americans (1955-19464) and the rebellion of Chinese pupils in Tiananmen Square, located in Dongcheng, Beijing, in 1989. The Declaration of Independence, and all of the justified acts it influenced, are forms of patriotism.

Even small deeds can represent one’s allegiance to their nation. For me, it’s volunteer work. I am involved in a program called Community Reading Buddies, in association with Child Development Centers. In this summer volunteer program, I read to and play with preschoolers. The goal is to build a relationship with the preschool buddy I’m assigned to and teach them in a fun way that involves reading. To be a part of this project and to know that I could make a huge impact on the children’s lives is very rewarding. It feels great helping others unlock and reach their full potential.

All in all, there are numerous, spectacular ways to express patriotism, whether it’s a protest for the good of your community, state or country, or being a friend and teacher to those who need one. As long as your actions stand for freedom, independence and our rights as people and citizens, you’re a patriot.

image: Closeup of grunge American flag via Shutterstock