When I was a little girl, I remember thinking how lucky I was to have been born an American. I didn’t grow up in the South or the Midwest…the “Real America.” My family wasn’t Republican. My parents were war protestors and my grandparents were blacklisted during the McCarthy era. We weren’t Christian. I wasn’t yet old enough to be rebellious. I don’t remember owning a flag. Despite fielding accusations of being ‘un-American,’ my parents made me a proud American.
There are many reasons for my patriotism, but here are just a few:
- Casey Anthony was acquitted – I know emotions ran high on this particular topic, but hear me out. I didn’t follow the case. From what I understand, she was probably guilty. From what I understand, the prosecution did a lousy job. From what I understand, she should never again see the light of day. A lot of ‘i’s have to be dotted and a lot of ‘t’s crossed before bringing a case to trial. There are a many loopholes that allow the guilty to go free. This isn’t a pleasant fact of our legal system, but it is what makes it one of the best in the world. Presumption of innocence is the bedrock of our criminal justice system. People aren’t sentenced to spend their lives in jail, or to death because the public believes them to be guilty or even because the jury believes them to be guilty. They are sentenced based on the facts presented into evidence. They are sentenced when the prosecution convinces a jury of guilt ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’ The prosecution in the Casey Anthony case failed that test. Blame it on the prosecution. Do not blame it on the legal system. The legal system worked in the way it was intended. It’s unfortunate others who cannot afford such a defense team will not see the same sort of justice, but that is for a future discussion.
- I am allowed to write this – I can criticize my country or my President without the Secret Service banging on my door. That’s a pretty awesome freedom.
- I can do what I want for a living – Here’s one benefit that’s not talked about a lot, but in many countries, your future is pretty much predetermined. Some are born into their career. Some are given limited paths based on grades in school. In many countries, people are limited by gender. Sure, there are obstacles, even here, but no one has ever told me I can’t be a writer, or a fireman/astronaut/President. Heck, I could even be a housewife, if I choose.
- I’m allowed to practice whatever religion or non-religion I want – And you are allowed to hate me for it.
- I am allowed to not worship the flag – Or I can literally worship the flag.
- I can fall in love with a woman – I can take her to dinner. I can hold her hand. I can kiss her. I can have sex with her. I can live with her. I can have children with her. I can’t marry her yet, but I’m confident that option will be coming soon.
- I can fall in love with a man – I can take him to dinner. I can hold his hand. I can kiss him. I can have sex with him. I can live with him. I can have children with him. I don’t have to marry him.
- My neighbors don’t look like me – Like it or not, our country is a melting pot. There is so much to be learned just by listening. I can’t afford to travel the entire world, but I can afford to ask my Indian neighbor about his homeland. I can afford a lesson in Vietnamese culture from a Vietnamese store keeper. I can afford to hear stories of the Ukraine or of Mexico or Somalia, from the people who have actually lived them. I am richer for it.
- I can go where I want – For the most part, I can travel the world freely. I can travel the country with absolute freedom. Just the enormity of the US is something pretty amazing. Without leaving our shores, I can see tropics, swampland, desert, mountains and beaches.
- We are not perfect – The preamble of the Constitution says, “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union…” Perfection is not written into the Constitution. The strive for perfection is a lofty goal, never within reach, but always within our sights. We make a lot of mistakes. Many people get needlessly hurt. The rich get too rich as the poor lose their footing. However, in the end, right usually wins. Younger generations are always more open to the growth of civil rights. No matter how far to the right the pendulum is currently positioned, it will always swing back.
I am a patriot, but you will never hear me chant, “We’re number one!” unless it’s during the Olympics. My country is like my family. Saying I have the number one family in the world would sound silly, but I love them more than any other family.