Be Proud to be an American

Americans are exceptional people—not better, but exceptional.  Webster’s defines exceptional as “standing out, being above the ordinary”—and that we are.  So on the eve of the United States’ 232nd birthday, I thought it appropriate to take a few minutes to look at our nation and why we are so unique in the history of the world.  

Americans represent just 5% of the world’s population, yet we produce a third of the world’s good and services and lead the planet in just about every aspect of technology.  The United States has placed men on the moon, our medical competence is the envy of the world and our military is unparalleled.  While we remain an imperfect people, no nation in history of the planet has provided more aid, support and assistance in every form imaginable to the needy around the world than the United States. 

So why do we as a nation ‘stand-out’ in human history?  Any examination of the reasons for our greatness must begin with the Declaration of Independence.  The Constitution is our guiding and governing document, but it is impossible to understand the United States without first understanding the Declaration of Independence.  The Declaration is our bedrock because it embodies the very reason for our existence as a nation.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  We’ve all read these words before, but as “the 4th” approaches they are worth examining again.

And perhaps no one understood these words better than Abraham Lincoln who said,—“All honor to Jefferson, to the man who, in the

concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times.”

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich wrote, “The Declaration embodies the deep sensibility of the American people; our rights are God-given; we could not eradicate them, even if we wanted to: and any government that tries to annul these rights will cease to be legitimate.”  These are the real truths of the Declaration of Independence, we have relied upon them throughout our history and they have guided us during our darkest hours.

There are those who would have us focus on differences.  But our differences are miniscule when compared to our similarities, including our spiritual underpinnings.  Poll after poll has shown that the vast majority of Americans believe religion and morality are important to the country and approve of the reference to the Creator in our Declaration of Independence.  More than 85% approve of “One nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, and 80 % approve of the Ten Commandments appearing in courthouses across America.  The over whelming majority also approves of a moment of silence allowing children to pray to themselves if they want to in public schools and believe it’s important to acknowledge that our rights come from our Creator.  These notions are woven into the very fabric of our society.

Perhaps we “don’t get it right” every time, but from our naissance, Americans have demanded that our government adhere to the principles upon

which this country was founded.  At the same time, we also understand that the United States must set the example for democracies around the globe because where democratic principles flourish, so too do peace and prosperity.  

As a nation we have our faults, and during an election year some might be inclined to believe those who focus only on our problems.  Nevertheless, the United States has unlocked human potential more significantly than any other culture or civilization in history.  The result—a free society where innovation can flourish and individuals prosper.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said, “The true measure of a country is to look at how many people want in…and how many want out.”—and it speaks volumes that more people immigrate to the United States than the rest of the world combined.  And if they could, a billion people from around the globe would immigrate here tomorrow.

Parades, barbeques and fireworks will fill the upcoming holiday weekend.  But the 4th of July is more than that—it is the greatest celebration of freedom anywhere on earth.  So during this holiday weekend, let’s not lose sight, even for a moment, that in spite of our foibles, America remains as Ronald Reagan told us, “… a shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere.”—Happy Fourth of July!

Quote of the day: “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.”  William Jefferson Clinton.

 

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