At first glance, you might not think I’m a patriotic type person. I tend to lean toward the more liberal points of views on things like civil rights, gay marriage, and social programs. While I live in the west, I’m not “country.” When I grew up, I was a rebel looking for a cause.
But patriotism runs deep in my family, and has a pretty good hold in me, as well. My maternal grandfather and great-uncle were decorated pilots in the Korean War and World War II, respectively. My paternal great-grandparents immigrated from Italy, and most of their male children served in some war or another for the United States. The female children (including my grandmother) were part of the woman’s military auxillary groups.
My father served in the Army, and the country school I attended taught me to respect our flag. I know how to fold one up into a nice triangle, and to never let the edges droop onto the ground.
Growing up I was indoctrinated with a healthy respect for our servicemen and women and our country. It grieves me to hear American’s talk smack about the United States. I have to wonder if they have ever been outside of our borders.
We have poverty here, but some of our poor people would be considered pretty well off in many countries. When I visited Peru, I learned that in Cusco there are entire neighborhoods without running water. This isn’t a situational problem, it’s a chronic problem. They don’t have plumbing that runs into the hills where the poor people live. In other countries, families live in the trash dumps. And let’s not even get started talking about the violent and abysmal living conditions in some African countries.
We are able to choose our own careers. We don’t have someone dictate to us based on test scores what career field we should study. I was shocked when I learned from a German friend that he wanted to study to be a brewer, but he didn’t score high enough on the tests, so he was directed into a different food-oriented career path. We are still the land of opportunity. We can have our dreams and strive to reach them, too.
In the United States we have a hugely diverse environment. Travel a couple of hours in any direction and the surroundings are completely different. There is so much to see, all within our borders. One year I traveled from Wyoming to Astoria, Oregon. Over two days I saw soft-brown prairies, verdant grasslands, dormant volcanoes, gigantic redwoods, and sandy beaches.
But most of all, I’m proud to be an American because of the people. Yes, there are the hateful, aggressive political people who annoy me greatly (and I mean people on both sides of the political fence), but I believe overall the people of the United States are concerned and compassionate, sturdy and hard-working.
Our history is full of persevering, focused figures. Without the ability to dream, persevere, and achieve the goals set before them, the United States would not be what it is today.
I am proud to be an American. I know things here aren’t perfect, but since I’ve always been a glass-half-full kind of person, I’ll focus on the positives, while we continue to work out the negatives.
Have a happy Fourth of July, and I send out a special “Thank You” to all our servicemen and women, past and present.
What else makes the United States a great place to live?