Senator Barack Obama's wife, Michele, said, “For the first time in my adult lifetime I am really proud of my country.”
All of the major newspapers, the national television stations, and site after site on the internet, re-quoted, dissected, and x-rayed her remark ad nauseam. She was accused of being unpatriotic, turning the campaign into a racial issue, and everything in between.
It is my belief that the remark was taken out of context, misrepresented, and misunderstood.
While I am not an Obama supporter, I do not believe that a potential first lady would ever say that she was not proud of her country and mean it in the context portrayed by many of the East Coast news pundits.
I am not sure what she meant and I doubt that anyone, other than herself, will ever know for sure. But, I am willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.
The incident did, however, make me think about my attitude in relation to being an American.
We all look at our country from different perspectives based on ethnicity, religion, gender, politics, economic position, the section of the country we are originally from, and where we currently live, plus a hundred other variables.
I grew up in a little community in Colorado where God, country, and apple pie were not just words; they were our way of life. I have to admit that there might have been one or two girls with pigtails who captured my attention sometime when I was growing up, but that is another story.
We were taught that we lived in the greatest country on earth and we believed it. We were raised to dream and work for whatever we wanted because we lived in a country that truly allowed us to do so.
I am rich far beyond what I ever hoped because I am an American. I do not mean that I have tons of money. I really do not care about that. What I mean is that I was allowed to become whatever I could dream about being and what I was willing to accomplish through my labors.
Were I from any other country on earth, I doubt that I would be working in a vocation that I truly love. I did not come from an elite position in life. In fact, I grew up in a modest, hard working family of eight children. It was never an easy life and it became tougher when we lost our father to an accident when I was thirteen.
Life from that point was more a matter of survival than anything else. My two older brothers both quit school and went to work just to keep food on the table. There was not much thought of riches, leisurely travel, college, or having much of a future. During that period of my life we were forced to live for today and not really expect much from tomorrow.
However, I always remembered that because we did live in America, we were free to reach for a better life and not be held down without hope.
My path to a different level of life came through the military, which enabled me to further my education and to reach for new heights.
I am thankful and proud to be an American. We have never been promised a life of easy riches and luxury, but we have also never been denied the opportunity to reach for those things, if that is what we desire. I believe that many of these things are possible only because we live in America.
So, yes I did get a little misty when America landed on the moon, when America beat the Russians for the Hockey Gold Medal in the 1980 Winter Olympic Games (I do not even like hockey), and when the Berlin Wall was torn down.
I acknowledge with pride that America is always the first to show up to offer relief when catastrophes occur all over the world. Americans do care and they are never hesitant to offer a helping hand.
I am proud to be an American who embraces all the world's different cultures and backgrounds, and who welcomes them to our land (so long as they come legally). I am especially proud of those men and women who serve in the military, protecting all of our independence and our right to pursue our dreams.
I love the reminders of just how great a country we live in, such as the flying of our flag, the singing of the Star Spangled Banner, and all of the rich heritage we share throughout our colorful history.
I love to stand and show respect to the symbols that represent our freedoms and opportunities.
Even with all of the challenges we face, and there are many, I am and will continue to be proud of America and proud to be an American.
At the end of each day I continue to say, “Thank God for America.”
Mr. T out