Be proud, it's okay

12:22 PM

I love my country.

I wish I could live there.

It makes me sad when I hear people putting it down. Not Europeans. The Europeans that go on and on about how terrible my country is get a view of my best side as I roll my eyes and walk away. They are usually the ones that have never been there.

Honestly, it is usually Americans who I hear putting down our country. Weird.

I am all for reevaluating, criticizing, keeping the loons in Washington in check and having decent, non-screaming debates about issues and politics, but go for the full, "America is sooooooo terrible...blah, blah, blah" makes me cringe.

The thing is, just like parents, you don't get to choose your country. Not really. Unlike parents, you can change your country (I am friends with a few who have) but it is a pretty drastic change to make. Otherwise Sean Penn would have left long ago.

It isn't the norm to up and leave your country. It is probably right up there with one of the hardest things to do. So when people do it, it is for a GOOD reason.

If you aren't leaving it is also for a good reason. But if you stay, don't go around claiming that you are so embarrassed about your country. And don't tell me when I come home that I must be so happy not to live in this terrible country. Because it isn't true. I would give a lot to be able to move home.

Your country is not just the decisions that the President makes. It is not just what Congress says. It is not just what the Secretary of State can convince the rest of the world we are. Our country has made some poor decisions. Some of those decisions were made thinking we were doing the right thing only to have history show us that we weren't. Some decisions were made knowing full well we were't doing the right thing. Some decisions we made were good.

There is a lot to our history and not all of it is bad. Not all of it is something we need to hang our heads in embarrassment for. Do you think the French are embarrassed about their French Revolution when they would chop off people's heads in public? And half the time the person losing their head was not guilty?

I am not saying we shouldn't learn from our mistakes. We certainly should. But we should also be proud of our country and how far it has come today, because in the end it is the only country on earth where the constitution hasn't been changed over and over, where it as stuck to the basics of liberty, justice and freedom where the people have grown together, changed together and become better together. God smiles on this nation where people can own stores, invent things, where people are given the freedom to dream and smile and teach their own children.

Your country is not just Congress, the President or Washington D.C. Your country is your neighbor, your public school, your right to practice religion, your right to Google anything you want, it is the nation that is known to be the most generous in any disaster, the nation that comes together to pull each other out of the rubble, who stand together and remember. It is a nation that struggled to build itself, but that strength it used still carries on. It is a nation that lends a helping hand, that welcomes people from all over the world, that is kind and thoughtful to those who are different.

And if you think we haven't gone far enough, if you don't agree with me about what I said, just come overseas and compare. Of course there is always room for improvement, of course there are mean people in our country. There will always be those people. But they are not the some total. The some total are you, your family, your neighbors, your kids, your community, etc.

Your country hasn't let you down, so don't be ashamed of it. Just like a person, there is always room for growth, but we can still love it how it is, for what it has become and what it has endured to continue standing as is. You have no idea how great it is until you leave it.

I am sure you are all remembering this day from twelve years ago in your own way today. All I want to encourage you to do is to stop, think and look at the beautiful side of our country today and the beautiful people and culture it has. Because there is beauty there, and it doesn't take much to see it.

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