Tolstoy's essay "On Patriotism" is as true of modern America as it was of eastern Europe at the beginning of the century. Like religion, patriotism is a tool used by those in power to control the masses. As we move toward theocracy and the Patriot Act continues to strip away various freedoms, the flag-waving will intensify. The modern GOP has learned how to manipulate the public all too well.
Now go enjoy that BBQ, and try not to blow your hand off with those fireworks.