Today I’m going to say some things that I think need to be said about this great country of ours. I know it’s a sticky subject, but whatever. Independence Day is right around the corner so what better time than now to talk about this.
We’re the best damned country on Earth, aren’t we?
There. I said it just to get the uber-patriot extremists off my back. Hopefully they’ll stop reading here.
Now, how I really feel.
We’re just another country.
And we’re not the best damned country on Earth. Not really. Not if you take an honest look at things.
And, if I’m being honest, I am beginning to sometimes fear being a citizen of the red white and blue.
Yes, we have the most guns. And the biggest military. And the most nuclear weapons.
We also have some of the brightest minds in the world and some of the most talented athletes, performers, and businesses. We have a free market that allows anyone to grow out of poverty, and we have a system that rewards those who work the hardest. We are free to say whatever we like. Believe me, I understand the value that that freedom is, especially when I want to write something like this.
We also have some of the greatest patriotism here. Those who serve in our armed forces are held up as heroes (and most of them truly are). We stand before every athletic event and hold our hands to our hearts while we sing of our devotion to this country. We publicly ostracize and reduce to nothing anyone who doesn’t love and breathe their devotion to this country. Patriotism runs strong here. It always has.
It used to be so with me. I used to weep almost any time I held my hand over my own heart and sang those certain lines of the national anthem: “And the rockets’ red glare. The bombs bursting in air. Gave proof through the night. That our flag was still there.”
When I heard that song, I would think back to all of the wars that made this country possible. I would think of the leaders and the lives given. I would think of the resolve this country had to become a country at all. To simply have the rights that its founding fathers felt that all of its citizens deserved. I would think of that tattered flag, about which the national anthem was written, and I would think about the symbol it was to those who were ready to give in and give up. And as I would stand there enjoying my very free and beautiful life, I couldn’t help but always give incredible thanks to our ancestors and what they did for us.
Even now, I still get emotional sometimes. Soldiers make me emotional. Fathers and mothers leaving their children for often years at a time. Putting themselves in the paths of bullets and bombs. Risking their lives so that I can live mine how I want to live it. Risking their existences so that we all can live our lives how we want to live them. Yes, soldiers still get me emotional. There is so much beauty in such open commitment to one’s country and one’s people.
But the soldiers and the sailors and the members of all our armed forces are only a tiny, tiny percentage of the people in this country.
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