This being Independence Day, it follows that I’ve been thinking even more than usual about what being American means to me.
It’s easy in uncertain times like these to yearn for the proverbial good old days. As an avid student of this nation’s history, I can tell you that the whole experiment has been a big, lively, complicated and absolutely glorious mess from Day 1. George Washington wondered, many times, how he could possibly hold the whole thing together. Lincoln, even more so. In other words, this is nothing new, gang, and the ‘good old days’ are right now.
I will leave the decrying of this nation’s faults and shortcomings to others. We’ve made lots of mistakes–that’s what happens when you DO things. With Mr. Lincoln and many others, I believe the central tenets of the American philosophy, however imperfectly executed, are indeed the last great hope of mankind. Freedom is a lot of things, but free ain’t one of them.
To the detractors: Detract away. Many good people have sacrificed their dreams, property and very lives to preserve your right to complain publicly or in private.
I am a self-made woman. I raised a child, forged a career, and amassed considerable property, tangible and intangible. With no pedigree and a very limited education, by most standards, I could not have done that in any other country. I will pursue the American ideals–liberty, progress, courage and compassion, to name just a few–to the best of my ability. One nation, under God. My dad flew his flag proudly, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, one of the brave men who landed on Iwo Jima…he actually saw the famous raising of Old Glory, albeit through binoculars. (Did you know it was done once for real and once for the photo op?)
From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli. My dad, and countless others like him, fought our country’s battles, on the land and on the sea.
Semper fi, Daddy. Ever faithful.
I love you, and there are still a lot of us willing to carry the torch.