Monday, June 27, 2016

Independence Day

So, it’s almost the 4th of July and here in the United States, that’s a national holiday. On one of the news stations I watch, there is a hashtag campaign running called “Proud American” and this station interviews people about why they are proud to be an American. That’s got me thinking about what it is that makes me proud to be an American, and I came up with a few things.

We have the most generous, caring citizens in the world. Seriously, when there’s a natural disaster, who the heck does the world call for help? Sometimes, we aren’t so quick to see the natural disasters in our back yard, but we can see the ones elsewhere. Earthquake in Haiti? The Americans will have a televised fund-raiser for you. Tsunami? Yep…we’re there to help. 

World wars? Yeah, we saved the world. Twice. You’re welcome. And then we helped rebuild those hostile countries decimated by those wars. Aliens invading the planet? I could bet we’d be on the front lines. Rather like the scene in Independence Day (the original) when Jeff Goldbloom’s character figured out how to take down the mothership so the world could fight back and when the message was sent out the old fashioned way via Morse Code, the comment from the British forces hunkered down in some desert was “About bloody time!”

There’s a clichéd comment about the US being the last, best hope for freedom and democracy in the world, but in my heart, I know that’s true. America is still seen by many as a shining city on a hill. Oh, we may squabble, fuss, and fight among ourselves, but that’s what family does. Let an outside force attempt attack us and watch how fast we pull together and kick some serious butt. When we put the might and intellect of our citizenry behind an idea, there is nothing we can’t do. Harness the power of the atom, put a man on the moon, send a little rover to Mars, get a close up of Neptune…

The men who signed our Declaration of Independence somehow knew that we could never be the best we could be if shackled under the heavy yoke of tyranny. They weren’t necessarily brave men, but they were men who understood that the good of the many outweighed the needs of a few. Our country was born on July 4th, 1776. We became a nation in the crucible of the American Civil War. We tried to commit suicide as a nation in that war. And, like any suicide attempt, there are still scars. BUT…and this is a huge but…we survived it to become the nation we are now. It is our shared, collective history and we cannot hide it, nor should we try. That bloody war MADE us.

We are a nation of immigrants, whether your ancestors arrived here on the Mayflower or if you just got here. It is those immigrants which have made us so strong, given us so much diversity and the resilience to overcome any adversity. So, rather than letting petty differences, self-serving politicians (of EITHER political stripe), and fear divide us, let us come together again as a nation. We are bigger than our differences. We have always found ways to resolve those differences. And, that is just one more thing that makes me proud to be an American.

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