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Bleeding Red, White, and Blue, and Proud of It

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I believe I was born bleeding red, white, and blue. I've always been easily moved by the sight of the American flag, the sound of "The Star Spangled Banner", and that undeniable sense of American pride on the multi-hued faces of my very diverse neighbors as we gathered each year for the big Fourth of July celebrations. My eyes would well with tears, my heart would be near-bursting with love, and I had no doubt I was living in the best country on earth.

I still feel that way today.

While many of my beliefs have changed over the years, my pride in being American has not. In fact, now, more than ever, I realize how blessed I am to have been born a citizen of this country. I have the right to worship as I please, if I please. I have the right to pursue my dreams, whatever they may be. I have the right to express my thoughts without fear of jail or death. And I can share all the beauty of these concepts with my children and my community.

As I look around me now, I see far too many people who are aggrieved at the mere notion of citizenship as an honor, community, or patriotism. Heaven forbid they find anything good in being American. I wonder why they haven't sought the greener pastures they believe lie elsewhere. I wonder why we must all be subjected to their every complaint about "what's wrong with America." We're not a perfect country, but we offer more freedoms and potential than most others. And, I know this is the very reason I end up listening to their complaints. They complain because they can. It's their right. It's also a part of what makes America such an interesting place to call home.

Now, I can't change anyone else's disposition or level of discontent, discord, or disgruntlement, but I can overlook them. Most of the time. This year, there has been a great hue and cry amongst the "activist" groups to speak out, loudly, on the day we celebrate our declaration of independence from tyrannical kings 200 plus years ago. These groups have plotted and planned to make their presence known in any manner possible, including disrupting our parades and fireworks displays. They are free to do so, but it fails to impress me as an effective recruiting method. The Fourth of July is a special day, a day when we come together as one to celebrate our freedoms. To call for protest against democracy and freedom on such a day is divisive and isolating. A bit ironic if you consider one of the groups calling for such protests is named United for Peace and Justice. What's so unifying in the shredding of the fabric of a community?

Over time, I've learned to seek out those who feel more as I do, those willing to sing out in unison as we watch our glorious flag flutter and whip in the winds of freedom above our heads. It is in this effort to surround myself with people eager to rejoice in community and fellowship that I found something extraordinary: a sense of place, of belonging. Even those who don't agree with my personal beliefs belong to this group.

I suppose it's too much to ask for a single day of togetherness. Don't we deserve a day when we can set aside our differences and personal or political agendas to embrace the very freedoms which afford us our disparate beliefs? I believe we do deserve such a day. The Fourth of July, Independence Day, is that day. I would gladly take my place beside anyone who disagrees with me, as long as we could agree to leave our differences at home and simply enjoy a moment of acceptance of our right to disagree.

I know my dream is a fairly grand one and likely not something we'll see anytime soon, but it warms my heart to believe it could happen. Until such time it does, I will continue to seek those who are willing to come together in celebration of freedom and democracy for the sake of our community at large.

For one day, we should all be proud to call ourselves Americans, especially when we have the right to do so.

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About Joan Hunt

  • Great article, Joan–on target. I’d like to think your dream is not too grand, either, even amid the malcontents and hand-wringers.

  • I am pleased to tell you this article is being featured in the Culture Focus today, July 5.

    Diana Hartman
    Culture Editor

  • Thank you, Diana and Gordon!

  • Joan, while you have to hope things can change, it doesn’t seem possible these days. The truth is that it is okay for us to be proud of America and being American. Yes, there are problems here just like anywhere else, but I think they’re more magnified because they are happening in America.

    There isn’t any other country in the world that has so much focus on the every day happenings within its borders. I have no idea what’s happening in Italy or Russia or India on a daily basis except what “big” news I might read in the paper. Conversely, people in those countries get a steady stream of “news” stories from the States, most of it no doubt negative.

  • Nancy

    I think like most people you are confusing love for & loyalty to America with love/loyalty for/to its elected leaders. They are nothing but political trash. They certainly don’t embody or symbolize America; they embody & symbolize only themselves & their willingness to rob & rape America for their own enrichment. America is so much more than a bunch of stinking, lying politicians of whatever stripe.

  • JOAN: Of course it’s cool to be proud to be an American. Why ever not?

    VICTOR: Actually it’s quite possible to go several days without hearing any news from the USA. As cool a country as it is, and it is, it’s still just a small part of the general population.

    Right now, we tend to hear more about what’s going on in China, India and othjer large nations or blocs and about the only US news that’s heard is related to either the Middle East, Oil/Petrol prices and the Dow Jones closing index.

    To learn much more than that actually takes some determined effort.

    NANCY: Quoted for truth! © gonzo marx

  • Nancy

    My dear 96-year-old neighbor said it better than anybody yesterday when she remarked wistfully that she’d so love to see all our elected officials flying from the flagpoles. Everyone (except me) thought she was confused.

  • A good article, Joan, and one I substantially agree with. Except for one point:

    I wonder why we must all be subjected to their every complaint about “what’s wrong with America.”

    Well, just because America is a great country, far better than most, doesn’t mean there’s nothing wrong with it. And loving your country means trying to fix what’s wrong with it, not ignoring those things for the sake of what’s right in America.

  • Nancy

    Amen to that, Mr. West.

  • Love the post Joan…

    they’re starting to come out…they’re late…but the hate America crowd is starting to show up…

    It’s one thing to dissent…it’s another thing to hate everything about a place and stay there anyway!

  • MCH

    What are you talking about, Andy? Where’s the “hate America” comment?

  • Well MCH, the comments are still a little light…although they may start to heat up here shortly…

    we’re already reading that Joan is apparently confused…even though she never even mentioned politicians in her article…

  • Amen to that, Andy.

  • MCH


    So you’re saying Nancy hates America? Hhmmm, I’ve never gotten that from anything she’s written. But I do find myself agreeing with about 90% of her comments.

    Your favorite “bleeding heart liberal”

  • Nancy, I never mentioned our government or leaders as part of the 4th of July celebration because the day isn’t about them. And that’s one of the reasons I hate having the protesters show up at Independence Day parades, community fairs, fireworks shows, etc.

  • Baronius

    Joan, I thought this sounded familiar, so I looked it up. It was called “civility”, and it used to be a common practice in the US. It was pulled off the air in May 1975 as a ratings stunt on the local news. The Supreme Court declared public displays of civility illegal in the same 1996 decision that outlawed the Boy Scouts. They say that due to a bug in HTML, it can’t be uploaded onto the internet.

  • Baronius, you win the prize for best comment today!

    Yes, civility seems to have disappeared around the same time as common sense and common courtesy. Oh, and let’s not for get basic respect.


  • “As I look around me now, I see far too many people who are aggrieved at the mere notion of citizenship as an honor, community, or patriotism. Heaven forbid they find anything good in being American. I wonder why they haven’t sought the greener pastures they believe lie elsewhere.”

    Exact-a-mundo! You can ask the “blame America” crowd for that – you know, those folks who get so uptight whenever you question their patriotism or loyalty, but constantly bad-mouth the U.S.

    Andy Marsh is right, the “blame America” crowd not only exists but is very real and poisoning world opinion.

    Why haven’t they fled for “greener pastures?” Well, I wish they would. Perhaps they have tried but no other country would have them! LOL. I sympathize with those nations’ immigration officers. So I guess we’re stuck with them.