By Jennifer Richardson
Having just passed the annual celebration of our nation’s birth, I have felt much gratitude to be living in the land of the free and the home of the brave. I recently had a conversation with a young person who informed me that she did not feel particularly blessed to be an American.
She listed off the flaws in our history and shared her politics. I told her I was not concerned with where she found herself on the American political spectrum, only that she valued her opportunity to exist within it. She could not see how incredibly fortunate she was to have been born in a country that protects her right to think, feel, and speak as she wishes. How sad.
Much of our modern civic discourse is focused heavily on politics. So much so, that the respect for the foundational rights and duties of American citizens is being overshadowed and diminished by all the partisan noise. I regret to write that some of our young Americans are losing touch with who we are as a nation, and are gradually learning a subtle disdain for what has been given to them at such a great cost.
We are a nation that should understand and value the blood that was shed for our independence and way of life. If our young people don’t grasp why anyone would give their life in the fight for freedom, it is incumbent upon each generation to teach them the lessons of liberty.
While fairness and decency are vital, we are a nation of ideals to be aspired to, not just a group of people simply seeking equal social outcomes. We are a nation that allows dissonance as a platform for improvement, not just to engage in constant conflict.
We place our hands over our hearts or feel a quickening heartbeat when we hear our national anthem because it unites us under a common cause. We honor our flag because it is a symbol of our ideals and the sacrifices made for those ideals, not because our flag implies perfection. We do not desecrate these very symbols that exemplify our freedom to openly express our diverse and personal views.
We are a nation that allows people to celebrate their culture and what built them, not a country that erases all connections to custom, family, or faith in order to become a global denizen. We welcome all and their traditions as long as they truly want to participate in our national character.
We are a nation that knows unity is the goal, not uniformity, we don’t all have to agree on everything to like each other and our country.
Patriotism has no party affiliation and belongs to us collectively. Loving our country is good, and does not exclude loving other countries and peoples. Just as with most other things in life, we can clearly see flaws, work to improve, and still unapologetically love our nation.
We honor our living constitution that emphasizes that our human rights are unalienable because they have been bestowed upon us by a creator. In so doing, our brilliant founding documents place these rights above any government power to remove them.
On October 27, 1964, long before he was president of the United States, Ronald Reagan famously said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
As of 2020, half of the world’s 272 million immigrants reside in just ten countries. As the number one landing place on the planet, the United States takes in four times the number of immigrants as the next country on the list. The U.S.A. is far and away the most sought after destination.
There is a reason that so many international residents seek to enter and live in our scrappy, independent, patriotic, proud, imperfect, young upstart of a nation. They understand the message of freedom we should be impressing upon our youngest citizens, without regard to personal politics; every new generation must be taught that we are The UNITED States of America, and we stand for life, liberty, and the pursuit.