Patriotism — or why I love America

American Flag

Every July 4th, I feel it’s incumbent upon me, as a freedom-loving blogger, to write something meaningful.  And every July 4th, I fail to do.  Somehow, instead of golden prose about our nation, I invariably end up posting a picture of a waving flag and wishing everyone a “Happy July 4th.”  It’s not the magnitude of the task that’s gotten in my way.  Instead, looking back, it’s the sense I’ve always had that love of country goes without saying.  Sure, the Leftists are anti-American but, because it’s so obvious to ordinary people that America is a grand experiment in freedom and a truly excellent way in which to live, it seems redundant to pile on with patriotic encomiums.

This year, though, the third July 4th we’ve seen under Barack Obama’s presidency, I have a sense of a nation under siege, not from a foreign enemy, but from a Fifth Column.  Day after day, I read about the administration’s assaults on our “American-ness.”  By this I mean that Obama’s policies aren’t simply well-intended, but incompetent, efforts to preserve the nation in a modern incarnation of the Founder’s vision (or, indeed, of the vision of most Americans up through the 1960s).  Instead, Obama and his crew truly intend to be transformational — not, as naive voters believed, to raise us up; but, as Communists understood, to tear us down and rebuild us in an image alien to the traditional American ethos.

Whether it’s by returning us to a pre-industrial era by choking off our energy supplies; reducing us to a poor nation by drowning us in debt; destroying our status as a shining city on a hill by subordinating our interests to every tin-pot tyrant the world over; leaving us prey to terrorism (and even larger attacks) by yielding at every point to enemies who have us in their existential cross-hairs; constraining our individuality by a vastly increased bureaucracy that controls our banking, manufacturing, health care, etc.; or generally projecting an apologetic, self-abnegatory, self-loathing attitude that colors a nation’s view of itself, Obama is busy making America less than it was, less than it is, and less than it could be.

Sadly, the Obamas of the world have been busy at work in our education system for the past forty years, leaving two or three generations of Americans incapable of articulating what it is that makes our country special.  Worse, they’ve been told that our country is anything but special.  It’s not even average.  It’s bad:  a selfish, gluttonous, arrogant bully.  Although they might experience a sense of loss if the current administration ultimately succeeds in transforming this nation, in the here and now, as the transformation is in progress, we have several generations  of Americans who, like the dodo, don’t realize that they’re staring at their own extinction.  Only when the last dodo is standing will he or she starting thinking “Damn, why didn’t I stop this before it happened.”

So — what’s wonderful about America?

Signing of the Declaration of Independence

America’s founding myth is wonderful.  I say “myth” here because I want to avoid the Leftist’s snarling, soul-destroying debate about the Founder’s personal failings, whether it was the slaves they had, the slaves they let others have, the rights they denied women, the merchant class they supported, etc.  The Founders were human.  But before Browning was even a twinkle in his father’s eye, they already understand that “A man’s reach must exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”  In this case, they focused on the lodestar of individual liberty.  Looking beyond their own imperfections, they labored mightily to produce a political system that, for the first time in history, had individual freedom as its guiding principle.  Even the dreaded “three fifths” clause was an attempt to weaken slavery’s hold on the nation with the plan that the system, always economically unfeasible, would prove to be politically unsustainable in a nation predicated on the idea of individual freedom, even if it hadn’t yet attained the dreamed-of reality.

Americans readily embraced this national mythology.  Even when I was growing up in the 1960s, when the taint was taking hold in education, we still understood that the American system was intended to free individuals from government.  That the Founders hadn’t succeeded in freeing blacks from their fellow man was an entirely separate thing from the grand plan of limited government.   For the  fist time in history, men envisioned a system by which they could make their own choices, unencumbered by an all-encompassing, all-controlling, all-mighty religious and political body.  That’s a wonderful thing.  Sure it was a new idea.  Sure it had bugs (that darn slavery again).  But the myth of freedom was what counted, and it’s what drove America inexorably forward for more than two hundred years, even as other nations fell by the wayside.

Hubbard Glacier, Alaska

America’s natural beauty is wonderful.  I’m willing to be that, no matter where you live, if you can still afford to hop into your car and drive 25 miles, you’ll see something lovely, whether it’s a mountain, a plain, a beach, a river, a forest, a field, a meadow or something else that strikes your fancy.  We live in a country that is wonderfully and abundantly blessed by nature.  We’ve got the spectacular displays (Yellowstone, Niagara Falls, Yosemite), the eerily beautiful austere sites (Death Valley, most of Nevada, the Badlands), the colors (all of New England in the Fall), and just the regular lovelies of sunrise over mountains and sunsets over beaches.  How fortunate we are.

America’s man-made beauty is pretty damn wonderful too.  Sure, we’ve got the strip malls and the slums, but we also offer San

Statute of Liberty

Francisco, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Mount Vernon, Montpelier, Seattle, Los Angeles, St. Augustine, Austin and Boston, and every other city or town, all reflecting something unique and wonderful about America.  As long as you don’t limit yourself so that beauty can only be found in English castles, French chateaus or German schlosses, you’ll find beauty here.

America’s people are wonderful.  I used to love traveling to Europe.  Heck, I lived abroad as a student.  I know my history pretty well, and found it wonderfully satisfying to see history in situ.  The more I traveled, though, the more I wanted to come back home.  I finally realized that it was because you don’t live in the past, you live in the present — meaning that you live with the people of your own time.  And in my time, Americans are friendly.  This doesn’t mean they’re all nice; nor does it mean that the more reserved Europeans aren’t nice.  It simply means that, in ordinary interactions, Americans are more likely to give you a “howdy” and some help.  That doesn’t sound like much, but as we move through our days, these simple kindnesses add up.


America’s people are also wonderful because they are generous.  So far as I know, they are the only people in the world who, for the last 150 years, have sent their sons and daughters to battle for other people’s freedoms.  Is there a disaster somewhere in the world?  Americans are there, with money and with helping hands.  Was your house destroyed?  Americans will help you build it again.  We are a helpful people.

America’s dynamism is wonderful.  We go, we hustle, we do, we hurry, we invent, we innovate, we streamline, we create, we do it all.  We’re like some super duper product advertised on the shopping channel.  If the American spirit was a product, I’d want to buy it.

There is so much to love about America:  it’s system, it’s people, it’s nature.  Appreciating our virtues doesn’t mean being blind to our faults.  We are a work in progress, but those who wish to destroy America are doing something very evil indeed.

Happy July 4th, America.  We have a lot to celebrate.

Happy July 4th!

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  • Earl

    Love it, Book.
    I’ll add this — I can drive clear across the country, crossing borders as I go, and NEVER have to “show my papers”, unless I’m speeding or otherwise breaking the law.  I’ve never given a bribe in the U.S. (or Brazil), or even been asked for one.
    God bless America, and strengthen us to keep her FREE!

  • Alix

    That was wonderful!  It includes everything I’ve tried to articulate to my kids.   I am going to show it to them and have them re-read every 4th!

  • Ymarsakar

    SF got cut off by the statue of  liberty. If I was superstitious, that would be more than funny.

    Happy Independence Day, Americans.

  • Oldflyer

    Well said, Book.
    You forgot Warrenton, Va when you mentioned wonderful American places.  Wish I could post a picture of our Main St and Courthouse square, during the annual Children and Pets 4th of July parade.  Uncle Sam is there; a local youth fife and drum corps plays; patriotic songs are sung, and ice cream is free to kids.  So tacky.  So wonderful.
    Celebrated the 4th in Valley Mills, Tx one time when the girls were competing in the area at a Pony Club rally.  The highlight for me was the cow chip tossing.  Cow chips were painted  red, white, and blue, of course.  Another 4th we were at Ft. Hood, Tx for a more elaborate celebration.
    The scope of the celebration is unimportant; the spirit counts.
    On a more serious note.  It is hard to imagine the hopes and fears of those signers of the Declaration, as they took that momentous step into the unknown.  Thank you, Gentlemen.   Thank you to all who have subsequently striven to preserve our Liberty through efforts, both great and small.

  • Oldflyer

    Book, while reminiscing, I forgot the celebration hosted by the Hilton Hotel in Malta while the carrier task group was in port.  You would have loved it.  We did.

  • Caped Crusader

    Beautifully said!! The picture of the LCI (landing craft infantry) brought back memories of an emergency med evac in the early 1960’s in a rough Bering Sea which had me scared half to death. I can only imagine the feeling of these great Americans about to storm a hostile shore and often over half never reaching more than 50 yards inland. We have allowed these hate filled fellow countrymen to raise 3 generations who have no idea of the price paid by their forebears for them to live unappreciatively in the comfort of today. They will only appreciate it after it has been lost. GOD BLESS AMERICA AND THOSE 19 OR 20 FOREVER WHO PAID THE PRICE FOR FREEDOM.

  • 11B40

    Greetings: At the risk of raining on your parade, I would just like to reveal what your competition is doing in regard to our Independence Day celebration. 
    I live in the San Francisco Bay area, a couple of soviets south of what the locals like to refer to, however mistakenly, as “The City”. Last evening, one of our local Progressive (neé Public) Broadcasting Stations, KTEH alphabetically, aired a program entitled “Rebels and Redcoats; How Britain Lost America” which is a British “historian’s” take on our revolution. And what an interesting piece of work it was. 
    Where to begin. Well Americans-to-be were basically ungrateful subjects of His Majesty. And stupid, too. They actually had a better deal taxation-wise than the landsmen they had left behind but didn’t realize it. And one of their leaders was a beer brewer and a bunch of them owned slaves and had economic interests and the British general’s wife spied for the revolutionaries and the American fighters didn’t wear red and hid behind things and shot well and ran the Brits out of Boston. And they lied about Bunker Hill. 
    More episodic episodes to follow. Perhaps the “historian” will explain why he isn’t speaking in German.


  • Ymarsakar

    11B, too dumb to learn German as a language.

    British general’s wife was another Sarah Palin in the making, obviously. How dare she talk back to the patriarchy…

  • Charles Martel

    As we Yanks say whenever a Brit brings up how unfair it was for us to win our revolution, “Pity.”


    As my son in his youth used to write, in the upper left corner of the envelope, to a pen pal in the UK…
    “from the former Colonies”

  • Cathy

    A beautiful post, Book.

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  • Allen

    My most memorable 4th of July celebration was one outside of the U.S. I went with my father to the celebration at the Tokyo American Club where then Crown Prince Akihito gave a rather moving speech. His speech was centered on our past as bitter enemies, but reconciliation was still possible. Though that speech was moving, when you’re outside by the pool at the TAC you could see that drab desolate space known as the Embassy of the Soviet Union.

  • Charles Martel

    Some things besides the Constitution I love about America:

    Barbecue and grilling. When I walk the dog these days and smell good meat cooking on a grill, it feels great to live in a country that has no compunctions about slaughtering and eating millions of cattle, sheep, chickens and pigs.

    Tail fins. Screw you, Europe, you don’t know how to do good excess. Your excess always involves slaughtering people or taking overly long vacations.

    Asian Indians. Best ethnic group to hit the States since the Vietnamese. Good looking people, great scholars, great family values, fine cuisine, wonderfully entertaining dances and movies. Plus, they dont belong to the Religion of Peace, which means they don’t murder errant daughters or assault homosexuals.

    Yellowstone-Grand Tetons, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Glacier and Zion national parks. Those glories are my faves. Other people have their favorites. What a great topic to have beer-fueled arguments over!

    The rise of the micro-brewery. Not only does America now have some fantastic regional brews, the micro-brewery movement has punched one big, gaping hole into the Marxist notion of greedy monopolists devouring the Good and True (insofar as such things can exist in an accidental universe that made itself out of nothing).

    Women’s basketball. Lacking super height, women depend on skillful ball handling and superb teamwork to score baskets. It’s fun to watch a game that’s played without any gimmicks.

    —“Selling New York,” an HGTV program that follows three Manhattan real estate firms that deal in very high-end residential properties. Not only do you get a peek of the views from spectacular aeries that cost millons, you get to see the different personalities of the Realtors. Our favorites are the Kleiers, a Jewish family (affable dad, hard-driving mom and two daughters) that just comes across as savvy, hard working and menschy. My wife loves it when I imitate how the women carry their purses. Think of a large purse dangling from one of Ralph’s upraised arms in that final scene of “The Karate Kid”—it looks sort of like that.  

    Space X’s Falcon heavy-lift rocket, which will be able to put 117,000 lbs. of paylaod into orbit—twice as much as the shuttle. It’s a nine-engine wonder that kicks out 3.8 million pounds of thrust—the biggest booster since Saturn V. Oh, it’s made by private industry. NASA hasn’t been around to screw it up. so chances are it will be a significant factor in private attempts to return to the moon or reach Mars.

    Guns! Tens of millions of them! Just in case the feds or the big, bad, bwave left overreach.

    The Tea Party and sites like Bookworm Room. It’s good to know that “Don’t Tread on Me” is making a comeback. 

  • Ymarsakar

    Martel, use the famous phrase “Too bad, so sad”. Or the reverse categorization, “so sad, too bad”.

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