Just in time for next week’s Independence Day festivities and celebration of the red, white and blue, the online financial website WalletHub has released a ranking of the most patriotic states in the United States. (The survey can be found at https://wallethub.com/edu/most-patriotic-states/13680/.) The comparison focuses on evaluating two key dimensions—military engagement and civic engagement—and using 13 metrics to evaluate the 50 states by those two aspects.
One of WalletHub’s takeaways from the ranking was that overall, red states are more patriotic than their blue counterparts, although Democratic-leaning New Hampshire came in first place. Following the Granite State, in order, are Wyoming, Vermont, Utah and Idaho. The least patriotic states are Texas, West Virginia, California and New York, with New Jersey coming in at No. 50.
Virginia, much to our surprise, was ranked 15th in patriotism. We find that especially baffling given that in 2018, the survey ranked Virginia as the nation’s most patriotic state. We won’t pretend that we don’t find this year’s placement disappointing. The Mother of Presidents should have ranked higher. The commonwealth is recognized as the birthplace of America and home to many of the founders of the world’s most successful experiments in self-governance.
Overall, the commonwealth scored well on numbers related to military engagement. Per capita, the state ranked No. 1 on the number of active-duty personnel, No. 3 for veterans and No. 4 for Peace Corps volunteers. We did OK on voter participation. Unfortunately, civic engagement numbers are a bit depressing. It seems many Virginians are less than enthusiastic about donating time to volunteer service or participating in civic groups and organizations.
We aren’t sure what accounts for the waning levels of patriotism in Virginia. We believe that all Virginians—no matter one’s political or personal beliefs—should take an active role in civic engagement. Keeping this great country flourishing requires all of us to follow President John F. Kennedy’s adage to “ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”