Even with all of the problems our country currently faces, I'm proud to be an American. Those words have resonated with me ever since I attended a convention a few years back and the man seated behind me suddenly stood and began singing those words. He was nearly down the aisle, striding toward the podium before I realized he was Lee Greenwood. It was an exhilarating experience, but I've always been glad I was born in the USA. I take great pride in knowing someone in my family took part in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the War of 1812, the Spanish American War, both World Wars, the Korean War, Vietnam, and Iraq. My family has been represented in all four branches of the military. I come from a long line of patriots who fought for freedom.
Even more important than military service is the way my family, like our country, is built from a conglomeration of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. My mother is a descendant of some of our country's earliest European settlers. My father grew up in Canada and his grandmother was a runaway wife of an English nobleman. She joined the Mormon Church and was disowned by her husband. She then stole her children and fled to America. Another of my great grandmothers, a native American, grew up on an Indian reservation in the eastern part of this country. One of my brothers-in-law is part Shoshone and another is a descendant of the Trail of Tears Choctaws. My husband's great grandfather was a Danish fisherman, a descendant of the fierce Vikings. One of our nieces married a Japanese-Hawaiian man, a nephew and his wife adopted three African children, our daughter-in-law's father is Puerto Rican and her mother, Hispanic, and another niece adopted five Russian children. Our oldest grandson's wife is from Russia. Throw in a few kings, queens, pirates, outlaws, bootleggers, preachers, farmers, cowboys, a cobbler, an express rider, and a Mountie to complete the family picture.
When I hear of the limits on education, particularly for girls, in some countries, I want to weep. I'm grateful for the public education and the choice of colleges I attended here in America. I feel great gratitude for those who taught me to read and write. I'm thankful for the freedom to attend the church of my choice. My life has been richly blessed with the family I grew up in and the family I parented as an equal partner with the man I chose to marry. America is a land of great beauty and I appreciate my upbringing in the mountains and along the streams of the west, but many of the cities from Seattle to San Antonio from Salt Lake to Washington DC hold special places in my heart as well. I love the freedom this country affords me to work and play, the choices it gives me, and the expectation of fairness.
Of course, there aren't always happy outcomes, even in the land of the free. Though this country's constitution is based on justice and freedom for all, I can think of many injustices that have occurred throughout our nation's history. Many of those injustices touched my family. The Trail of Tears was a horrible example of injustice as native families were forced off their rich tribal lands into a long march to barren Oklahoma land with many suffering and dying along the way. One of my ancestors, a young man from Wales lacked the means to build a handcart to travel west in the 1850s so he indentured himself to raise the money for a later trip. He disappeared and the rumor persists that because he was a dark skinned Welshman, he was sold south as a slave. Just recently a family member who has risked his life numerous times to save others and who has been awarded two Purple Hearts for wounds he suffered in our nation's armed forces, was the victim of a court case based on a lie and the liar won.
Immigration, jobs, freedom of religion, medical care, racial animosity, war, bullying, education, politics, energy development, biased journalism, judicial activism, homosexual rights, and the list could continue of those issues that divide our country. Some of the solutions proposed by both the left and right are absurd. (I heard one opinionated man propose a law that for every illegal alien who crosses our Southern border we deport a liberal democrat to wherever the illegal came from.) We won't solve anything with absurd one-sided nonsense. We're not going to solve these problems by not getting involved. We won't solve them by shifting responsibility to a bigger and more powerful central government anymore than we'll resolve these problems by tossing out the rule of law and becoming a bunch of vigilantes. On this Fourth of July, our nation's birthday, it might be well to remember this country has a constitution, one many of us believe was inspired by God. It is our own unique set of laws by which this country is to be governed and by no other. Real solutions come through open discussion, compromise, respect for others, and turning to God.
America isn't perfect. Our history has its share of heroic events, dark tragedies, idealistic splendor, and cruel injustice. It isn't enough to say "but it's better than any other country in spite of its faults." It's up to us to be aware and be involved, to make it the best. Though I respect and admire all the many lands my family derived from and wish them well, even cheer for them in sporting events unless they're playing America, the USA is my native land and I'm proud to be an American.
It's customary on birthdays to wish the one celebrating a birthday many more birthdays. On this birthday of America it is my fervent wish that all we Americans in our various shades of red, white, and blue get our act together and make sure we have many more birthdays to celebrate in the future. Let's ensure many more Fourth of July celebrations by standing up for what is right, getting involved, and appreciating what we have.