I’ve been in a quandary wondering what to blog about for the 4th of July. I went back though some old Vail Daily commentaries searching for ideas, but nothing resonated, then it occurred to me that my mini writers’ block was due to how I was feeling about what I see in America today.
To be clear, I am proud of our nation, I’m proud to be an American and I’m honored to have served as a U.S. Marine. I alsoI believe America has afforded more people more opportunity than anywhere or at anytime in history. But the truth of the matter is that like many others, I’m not very proud of what I see in America today.
I say this because I recently watched a Tik Tok video sent by a dear friend, that hit me like a punch to the gut. In the video a young woman enrolled at Harvard described a recent trip to Israel she had taken with a group of students. She said her visit was one of the most extraordinary experiences of her life and she would always be grateful to the university for organizing it.
She related how the trip was filled with both awe and joy, but a certain moment rattled her and is the predicate for today’s blog. The students were attending a Shabbat dinner at a Tel Aviv synagogue when the rabbi welcomed the students saying, “Welcome to Israel, you are all here from America, the greatest country in the world,” but when the rabbi paused in anticipation of an appreciative response from the visiting students, not a single person cheered or applauded.
The Israelis in attendance were stunned by the silence and stared at the students in disbelief, . They were incredulous because they understand that Americans are the freest and most privileged people on earth. Yet as evinced by the students at the dinner, many Americans today, especially young people, are ashamed to show even the tiniest bit of national pride. These privileged students had been swaddled in prosperity and security their entire lives and have become oblivious to the point of being ungrateful for the blessings they enjoy as Americans.
The young woman went on to say it requires a vigorous athletic imagination for most Americans to understand the brutal realities much of the world experiences daily; but even worse, we have been fed a cultural diet that reduces America to its ugliest moments and dismisses its noble ideals and accomplishments as jingoism.
Lest we forget, the United States was not just and instrumental, but rather the United States was essential in saving the world from global catastrophe three times during the 20th century. America is a nation that treats racial, ethnic, and religious minorities with more equality and respect than any other place on earth, which is likely the reason more people emigrate to this country than any place else on earth. People emigrating to the United States know America is not just a place, rather America an idea where people are not constrained by gender, religion or class and are free to pursue a better life for themselves and their progeny.
As Americans we are free to criticize our government secure in the knowledge that we will wake up tomorrow morning and our country will still respect our rights. We consider this our birthright, our permanent and guaranteed condition. But these blessings are not guaranteed, these blessings exist only because past generations have sacrificed to secure and maintain them; and to our great discredit, too many of us have used these blessings not to strengthen our country, but to tear it down.
The young woman displaying a maturity beyond her years noted how Americans have shirked their responsibility as the most privileged cohort on earth, and how we’ve remained cringingly silent in the face of corrosive ideas emanating from a “woke culture” that has corrupted our institutions and severed the bonds that hold our country together.
The New York Times won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting the sole purpose of the American Revolution was to preserve slavery, and Americans remain silent. The Oregon Department of Education asserts that showing your work and finding the right answer in math is white supremacist, and Americans remain silent. The American Medical Association stated that the United States should remove gender from birth certificates, and Americans remain silent. Howard Zinn the author of the most widely read history text in American public schools said that America has done more bad than good, and Americans remain silent.
Even the latest polling shows pride in America at an all-time low. Far too many, especially the young, are ashamed to be Americans, but the shame should be on those who use their right to free speech to advocate suspending that right for all who disagree with them. And what an incredible litany of dishonesty it is that we are using our privilege to undermine the very system that has given us that privilege.
As Abraham Lincoln wrote in his December 1st, 1862, letter to Congress, “America is the last great hope on earth,” and those words are truer today than at any time in our history—Happy Fourth of July!
Quote of the day: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”— Ronald Reagan