As America prepares for it’s 240th Independence Day, I can’t help but reflect on what it feels like to be an American now, in the era we are in.
Let me preface this conversation by saying that I am honored to be an American and I am proud of our soldiers. Of every man and woman who has ever risked or currently gambles their lives in any corner of the world for the sake of democracy, liberty, or, freedom I am grateful. Words are fruitless in expressing such gratitude. For all the tens of thousands of names I will never know from memory, for all the blood shed spanning a hundred years or more, it is simply an impossible task to repay.
When I was a kid, which, for the sake of conversation, wasn’t all that long ago – life was a far simpler place. Back then it was cartoons, toys, and fun. There was a certain calmness and innocence about being a kid that I enjoyed. What I understood about my country at the time was limited, and as the older I got, the more I perceived, the less I seemed to agree on. There is a difference between understanding and agreement. We understand why things have transpired even if we don’t agree with them.
There were former military men in the family growing up, but what I knew most about my country began each morning with the Pledge of Allegiance at school. Learning about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln followed shortly thereafter, as did the words to the Star Spangled Banner. Through passage of time, exposed to more books, more information, and every day life, we all become accustomed to where we once were, and where we came from, up until that very point in time.
To this day, when I see the flag raised for salutation, I get a shiver in my spine that reminds me of being a kid. The feeling that you get with the pride you feel for your home, your family, and your nation. I would bet a buffalo nickel that a vast majority of professional athletes who end up crying on the winner’s podium as their flag is raised in victory are not crying for their own personal accomplishments, they are crying for the sake of being a part of something bigger than themselves. In the end, it seems that is all that really matters – being a part of something much greater.
Most people presume that being American is, for lack of a better word, “great.” In so many ways it is great, and in few ways it once was. One cannot help but occasionally question the American Influence that seems to reverberate around our once pristine planet. It is a delicate subject because of its ability to raise so many personal questions, such as nationalism, pride, hypocrisy, and the like.
Unfortunately, The United States, for all its rights and wrongs, is not as united as it once was. The constitution has been besmirched. The country is as divided now as it was perhaps 100-150 years ago. With such limited options on the horizon – the White House is in for one heck of a change. Another 4-years of smiley glad-hands with their hidden agendas. “Same horse, different rider” so to speak, and yes, there’s no pun intended in that.
Never have most of us seen our country on the verge of tilt. Common sense, combined with an imagination tells me that things changed between the 30’s and 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, and so on, but I cannot speak for the generation before me, or the generation before that because all I know is what has been told to me, or what I’ve read.
For whatever reason, am I not alone in wishing that things were “the way they were?” I most certainly hope not. Skeptical as it may seem, this entire article is to remind my fellow expatriates that we should still honor our country, even if the current State is not what we would most desire. After all, desperate times call for desperate measures.