I’m proud to be an American. Aren’t you?
I mean, come on! This is the greatest country that God ever created. How can you say that you don’t love Apple Pie with a scoop of Ice Cream, a summer evening at a ballpark, or being good at the Olympics? Do you know what we put in our burgers? FREEDOM!
I can already hear the cynic mumbling his negativity like the smarmy know-it-all in the back of the class, “But what about the great atrocities perpetrated under the star-spangled-banner?” Relax Nancy! I’ll get to the bad stuff and how we’ve handled it. But first, can we all agree, this is one heck of a country!
The Advances We’ve Made
Where would the world be without the United States? Was it not we, along with our allies, who defeated fascism and put an end to the terror of the Third-Reich? Was it not we who stood toe-to-toe with the oppressive Soviet Empire and demanded they “tear down this wall?” Weren’t we the ones who walked on the moon, created the internet, and invented chocolate chip cookies? Come on! How could you not love us?
We had no true military when we declared our independence form England and defeated the greatest military might in the world. We pioneered democracy before it was cool, establishing a representative republic that would forever remain a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Our veterans, from the revolutionary war to the present day, are among the most selfless, courageous, and dedicated warriors in human history. Our technologically advanced modern military has not only showed itself capable of protecting our homeland but also fighting oppression around the globe.
We are the country of inventors. Ben Franklin, Thomas Edison, and Elon Musk demonstrate our passion to change the world through creation. Flight? It was the Wright brothers who succeeded where Da Vinci only theorized. Automobiles? It was Henry Ford who created the assembly line which brought the car within reach of the masses. The weed whacker, the cellphone, and the post-it note were all products of our invention. Wasn’t it Steve Jobs who asked the question, “What if you could put a 1,000 songs in your pocket?” Sure, we didn’t invent the pizza, but we perfected it in the streets of New York and Chicago. If you’re still unconvinced about American genius and ingenuity, then google American inventions, and you’ll subsequently learn that google too came from the mind of an American.
We are the country of entrepreneurs. Andrew Carnegie, John Rockefeller, Cornelious Vanderbilt, Joe Pulitzer, Ralph Lauren, Sheldon Adelson, Oprah Winfrey, and Sam Walton are all American rags-to-riches stories. They each had nothing but a dream, willingness to work hard, and happened to live in a society that rewards creativity and determination. Their legacy lives on in every small business across the country. A pioneering spirit that continues to be seen from the garages of northern California to the production sets of Shark Tank. We continue to create.
We are the country of entertainers and artists. Isn’t this the country that gave us Stan Lee and the Marvel Universe? Isn’t this the country that gave us Walt Disney and the Magic Kingdom? Stephen Spielberg, Walt Whitman, Muhammad Ali, John Steinbeck, Maya Angelou, Elvis Presley all came from our land. We gave the world baseball, football, and basketball. We even care about soccer ever time World Cup roles around. And if you want to see the quintessential American entertainer (no…strike that…the quintessential American) look no further than Mark Twain.
Look around the world. Study the last few centuries. It’ll be extremely difficult to find greater leaders than the ones who lived as Americans. George Washington was an American. Abraham Lincoln was an American. Teddy Roosevelt, Susan B. Anthony, Ronald Reagan, and Martin Luther King Jr. were all Americans. Yes, there were other great leaders over the last few centuries, but I unapologetically state that there were none greater than those who came from and fight for America.
We may be low on humility and high on hubris but it cannot be denied that we are the ones who killed Osama, captured Saddam, and terrorized Hitler until he put a bullet into his brain. By God’s grace and providential guidance we have become the protectors of freedom, champions of equality, and defenders of justice around the world.
Oh, I can see the steam coming from the ears of the critic. Here we see the man who loves to point out the faults of others. He will only acquiesce to a few positive statements, as long as they are accompanied by dozens of harsh rebukes. Alright Nancy, the next point is for you…
The Difficulties We’ve Overcome
The brief and bold story of America includes moments of sheer embarrassment. Our national pride gives way to national shame when we look honestly at certain aspects of our own history. How could the “land of the free” enslave a race of people and treat them as mere property? How could the “home of the brave” allow such cowardice in our unwillingness to address the slaughter and displacement of the Native Americans? How is it that we have allowed antisemitism, white-supremacy, racism, and forced segregation a place to rise within our culture? We ought confess these national sins and continue to seek restoration as a people with the God of Heaven and the people we’ve hurt.
However, where some only see shame, I see success and hope.
Take a look at the African American experience. I am not a black American, but I am an American. And as an American my heart bursts with pride as I study the heroic efforts of my brothers and sisters who overcame insurmountable odds and give glory to God all along the way. Read Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington and watch how it stirs your soul. Remember the stories of Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, and Thurgood Marshall and you’ll be faced with the indignities suffered under the days of segregation and the bravery it took to challenge and change an entire system. They were and are Americans, and I’m proud to be one of them.
Take a look at the Native American experience. I am not a Native American, but I am an American. And as an American my heart bursts with pride as I study the history of these native people. From the early skirmishes of the Powhatan with the English settlers to the Battle of Wounded Knee against the US Government, we see countless stories of courage, resilience, and nobility. Read the history of the Trail of Tears and you’ll assume that these people were headed toward total annihilation, relegated to inconsequential historical footnotes. Nevertheless, they thrive. The Cherokee, Choctaw, and Shawnee are able to maintain cultural distinction while living successfully as Americans. The Seminole, Navajo, and Paiute are able to simultaneously respect their heritage while loving the United States. The Pawnee, Sioux, and Cheyenne are able to hold pride for their Native culture as well as a America. Just listen to this beautiful article written by Murray Lee For Pwna.*
Take a look at the American Jewish experience. These shores have always represented a refuge from the rampant antisemitism of Europe and the Middle East. America has been a place of hope and rebirth for a people group so devastated by hate and intolerance. Not only have the Jewish people found refuge in this great country, but they have added far more to our shared society than can ever be fully fathomed. You’ve already seen some of their names in this article, but I think I’ll add a few more so that you get a better picture. Mark Zuckerberg, Irving Berlin, David Copperfield, Robert Downey Jr, Harrison Ford, Marilyn Monroe, Scarlett Johansson, Gal Gadot, Jerry Seinfeld, and Henry Kissinger. That’s right! In case you missed it: Ironman, Black Widow, and Wonder Woman are all Jewish Americans. Here’s the point. The America that we know and love is the America they helped create. Yes, I see the disgusting rise of antisemitism in America’s academia, politics, and religion today. But we have overcome such prejudice in the past, and we will do it once again.
Take a look at the American Immigrant experience. Despite what is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, Americans have not always welcomed the tired, poor and huddled masses yearning to be free. During the great Irish immigration of the 1840s-1890s we see cultures clashing and religious tension increase dramatically. From the 1880s-1910s we see an enormous influx of Italian immigrants who faced similar prejudice. The early 20th century gave rise to Middle-Eastern immigrants attempting to flee religious persecution and growing civil unrest in the region. In this wave of immigration my grandfather found his way to the United States. There are millions of us. Immigrant descendants who are so grateful that our parents and grandparents left behind the land of their birth, retained certain cultural distinctions, and fully embraced the United States of America.
I don’t mean to oversimplify the complex. I acknowledge there is far more to these stories than I have the time or ability to address in this simple article. But I will say that we are not simple a great nation in spite of facing these challenges. We are a great nation because we have faced these challenges. Yes! Our history is filled with sin, struggle, and shame. YES! We still fight the plagues of racism, pride, entitlement, and materialism. Certainly, we are a flawed people… be we are also a great people… and I am unapologetically proud to be an American.
The Outlook We Ought Have
- Focus on the Positive
When I was 12-years-old someone lied to me. It was early May, 1992 and I was about to finish the 7th grade. “This is the summer,” they said. “By the time you enter the 8th grade you’ll have had your big growth spurt.” This was welcome news for I was the smallest of my friends, by far. Even my little sister was taller than I. And nothing is more emasculating than flinching when your 10-year-old little sister fakes a punch.
I waited all summer. Nothing happened. Well, my voice dropped an eighth of an octave, my body started changing (in all the weird ways), and I started noticing girls more often. But, I only grew an inch in the following 6 months. A year later I knew “this would be the summer” of the big growth spurt. Disappointment! The next year I went from disappointment to discouragement. The following year I was downright desperate. I remember hanging from the swing set like Bobby Brady, stretching my body and willing myself to grow. Alas, it was not to be.
I’m comfortable with the compact yet powerful form of masculinity that I’ve become. But in my teenage years I was extremely insecure about my height, until my father taught me a lesson. “It doesn’t matter the flaws you see in your appearance, you should still walk with confidence.” He taught me to walk with my head held high, chest out, and shoulders back. He taught me to look people in the eye and grip firmly when shaking hands.
It’s not that I am unaware of my apparent insufficiencies, I simply don’t focus on the negative.
- Show Pride in your Country
Does your family have issues? Are you trying to work through them? How would you feel if your teenage son continually badmouthed your family, telling everyone he could about the shame he felt even being associate with the family name?
Does your business have issues? Are you attempting to address these issues? How would you feel if an employee were continually attacking the company, downplaying its value, and criticizing its purpose.
Come on, have a little civic pride. Be true to your school. Wear an American flag t-shirt. Shoot off some fireworks on Independence Day. Engage in lively yet respectful debate with friends who hold differing political views. Vote! Run for Office! Say the words, “I’m proud of my country. I’m proud to be an American!”
And Nancy? We are glad you’re here too. Just try to say something nice for once. And stop with all the negativity. We really do share a great country.
So, What do you think? Am I way off base here? Or, do you agree? Let me know in the comment section below.
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