Wake Up, America
Origins of Modern Patriotism
The coming of World War II reenergized patriotic activity as Americans fretted over the rise of jackbooted dictatorships abroad and the threat of "fifth-column" techniques of subversion at home. These fears stimulated efforts across the political spectrum to inculcate patriotism, animating liberals as well as conservatives.
The New Deal moved many conservatives to warn that American liberties, too, might vanish. They accused FDR of straying down the "road to communism." In 1938 Martin Dies's committee began to seek out un- American activities, which the Texas congressman ascribed mostly to Communists in New Deal agencies or CIO unions. FDR's court packing scheme further piqued conservative fears. The 1937-39 sesquicentennial of the Constitution coincided with the war's approach; that document became a rampart behind which both foes and adherents of FDR's foreign policies rallied. 1
Amid nightmares of dictatorship and subversion, the flag's totemic power grew. Against the "turmoil" of 1938 and menace of "communistic, nazistic and fascistic forces," Colonel James A. Moss, leader of the United States Flag Association, urged "loyal Americans" to hoist the Stars and Stripes. In June 1940, as German panzers tore across France, buyers re-