It was in a junk drawer, inconspicuous to all. It is a bumper sticker with the words”I’m proud to be an American” purchased a few months after September 11th. Why isn’t it on display on my car’s bumper? Is it because I don’t want to be labeled “one of those,” and I prefer to remain anonymous in thought and deed? Is it because I want to remain politically correct?
When did patriotism become an anathema? Why do we feel embarrassed to say we love our country? Looking at the sticker makes me examine who I really am and how cowardly I am not to show my true feelings. If this were the 50’s, the sticker would be displayed proudly on my front door. When I was a child then, “we love our country – right or wrong ” was a popular motto. My post-war, post-depression parents were so solid in their beliefs, unwavering in their patriotism, they were like the saints who had visions of God that made their faith strong.
I realize that today, our love of country is more like the love for an aging soulmate: you being to notice the wrinkles, the quirks, the moles and warts and finally all that is wrong with your mate. Yet, your love grows deeper as you grow in understanding and wisdom and realize that he or she is a part of you and would sacrifice their life for you, and vice versa.
Everyday when I hear of the criticisms of our foreign policy, the concern over the economy and the plight of our health system and poor, I realize that there is hope. I can never give up hope in a system that is designed for change, and where subsequent generations can and will do a better job as long as they have faith that their country is worth saving. So I will put that bumper sticker on my car to tell the next generation that I am proud to be an American and that I love my country, warts and all.
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