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Proud to Be an American 

Experiencing Patriot Day with red, white and blue--and a touch of sarcasm.

Last year, on the first anniversary of the collapse of the World Trade Center, President Bush designated Sept. 11 as Patriot Day. In keeping with the tenor of the day, the following suggestions will help ensure that your actions are fervently patriotic, so that you can rest assured you will never be accused of being un-American.

First and foremost, step up your consumption. A healthy economy is directly related to how much you spend in the marketplace, so it's essential that you increase your shopping. It doesn't matter what you buy, as long as you keep buying. Just make sure that among your many purchases is an SUV. If you buy a REALLY BIG SUV, you may qualify for the tax credit the Bush administration pushed through Congress. All you have to do is demonstrate that you use the vehicle for business purposes. This is easy to do in Arizona: Simply claim you need the car to carry your REALLY BIG water bottle to and from work.

Flags are, of course, an important symbol of your loyalty to the nation, so make certain you have plenty on hand and that they are strategically located. You will need one flying from a flagpole at the front walk leading to your house, another on the front porch and a third at the back door. And don't forget the flag decals on your REALLY BIG SUV. You'll need at least two or three on your vehicle to ensure proper visibility. And a flag on your antenna would be a nice touch.

Of course, you will also require at least one bumper sticker, though two would be better. They could read, "I'm a patriot; I support the Patriot Act," and "Patriots ask no questions." Or, taking a page from our glory days in Vietnam, you might add, "America, love it or leave it."

And speaking of Vietnam, the Patriot Act recalls our warriors' most illustrious moments when the battle cry was, "We had to destroy the village in order to save it." In the case of the Patriot Act, we have to lose our civil liberties in order to keep them. In order to celebrate this preservation effort, consider wearing a T-shirt that says, "John Ashcroft, keeping us free and our civil liberties secure."

Also, make sure you take every available opportunity to make your presence felt at any and all protests, be they for peace, the environment, justice or any of the lefty causes. Carry a big sign with an appropriate, one-size-fits-all message such as, "Die, unpatriotic vermin." If you are really feeling frisky, you might consider taking a more active role: Bad-mouth protesters or engage one in fisticuffs.

Music is a very powerful tool useful for getting your message across. Invest in a large selection of patriotic tunes and make sure to blare them from your car's tape or CD player. This is particularly effective at the aforementioned protests. And don't hesitate to flood your neighborhood with the stirring lyrics of, say, "God Bless America." Your neighbors will thank you for providing the uplifting music and are certain to show their appreciation in ways you can hardly imagine.

When it comes to eating out, make it a point to frequent fast-food establishments as often as possible. You want to make certain that the nation continues to spend more on fast food than on higher education. (See Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation.) After all, more college-educated citizens, especially those pesky liberal arts graduates, could threaten our cherished institutions with dangerous and radical ideas garnered from Commie professors.

Another sure way to show your patriotism is to support the Boy and Girl Scouts. These worthy organizations are a prime breeding ground for tomorrow's young men and women, and we want to ensure the continuation of the Scouts' fine tradition of molding young people into compliant, law-abiding patriots. Donate your money, but also volunteer your time. There is no greater satisfaction than seeing a young person you mentored follow in your footsteps.

It should go without saying that any and all military undertakings of the United States are to receive your unqualified support. Whether our troops are in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea or some yet-to-be-determined pustule of a country, declare your allegiance loud and clear. Remember, our soldiers are fighting to maintain our way of life and keep our freedoms intact.

Finally, a word needs to be said about that most special holiday, the one dearest to a true patriot's soul--July 4. Of course, you will celebrate this day in full regalia: flags flying, patriotic music blaring and sporting the colors red, white and blue on all your clothing. But besides the barbecue and potato salad, make sure you use the occasion to gather your children and tell them the magnificent story of the day's meaning and how our nation's founders carved a glorious country from a wilderness populated with people eager to accept Christ's teachings.

One more thing about July 4: Unfortunately, in a misguided attempt to ensure our "safety," many localities have banned private fireworks. This is clearly a violation of the spirit of the day, not to mention an unnecessary infringement of our liberty. Seize the day; do not let petulant pettifogs keep you from exercising your rights as a free citizen of these glorious United States. Let those fireworks fly, and damn the consequences. You'll be providing a fine example of independence to your children.

So all hail the red, white and blue, and above all, keep shopping.

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