America has been fortunate to escape the continental European pattern of patriotic sentiment, in which local and particular loyalties are viewed as an impediment to devotion to the nation and must therefore be subdued at nearly any cost. Helping people in their community live with what this country has asked them to do makes a pretty good one.
It's used for various positive sentiments, attitudes, and actions involving loving one's country and serving the great good of all its people. In uniform patriotism can salute one flag only, embrace but the first circle of life—one's own land and tribe. The Queen loved the bread and would eat it every time she was out amongst the people, despite its reputation as peasant's food.
However, most moderate communitarian patriots admit that in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the vocabularies of nationalism and patriotism became confusingly intermeshed. Now, some of us in this room, and some of us on the panel, have chosen to be Americans when they had other choices.
It comes into limelight in time of war because it is a notion that makes more sense when there is an identifiable enemy and one is expected to withhold love from enemies if not downright hate them. As George Orwell wrote in his 1945 book Notes on Nationalism, patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally.