On February 18, 2008, Michelle Obama gave a speech in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During the course of her address, Mrs. Obama said, “For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country.” The crowd erupted in applause at this statement. Just hours later, Mrs. Obama reiterated her comment to another crowd, again being greeted with rousing applause. When I heard these statements and the response of the American citizens in attendance, I was ashamed.
How can a woman of such national prominence and stature believe something like that? Does she not remember some of the events of the past 25 years? Does she not remember the moments that brought together an entire nation under one flag? Does she not understand the significance of some of the battles waged over the past 25 years and the significance it made to all of us? Was she not proud of these times?
I was born in 1986 and yet I am proud of my country every single day. This is a country that ended the Cold War without firing a single shot. This is a nation that brought economic prosperity to individuals all over the world. This is the country that stood together on September 11, 2001 and vowed never again. This is the country where soldiers willingly risk their lives every day in order to grant us the freedoms for which so many throughout the world yearn. While that day in February of 2008 may have been the first time in Michelle Obama’s life that she was proud of her country, it was the first time in my life that I wasn’t proud of my country.
In my lifetime, there have been countless times when I have been proud to call myself an American. When I look upon our flag, what I see is a symbol of hope and power, known the world over as the “Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.” Michelle Obama obviously does not believe so. What I believe is that our nation is a great and symbolic place, where one can rise from poverty to become President of the Free World. I believe in the freedoms that have been granted to individuals and the ability for anyone, no matter their color, age, or social status to have a say in how their nation’s affairs are organized. I believe in a land where ordinary people have achieved incredible results. Most of all, I believe in the United States of America, and I am truly proud to be a citizen of the greatest nation on earth.
Mark Owens, age 22
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