I heard this song and sang it sincerely without reservation. I even got chills. As an adult, I sing the song and really consider the words and ask myself: "Am I proud to be an American?"
Ummm, most days I am proud and grateful to be an American, who lives in this country. However, other days I am not because if being an American is synonymous with a person who is kind, respectful, and unbiased, then being an American is
not in fact something I can wholeheartedly be proud of. So many of us are the opposite of the previously stated adjectives. Many of us think an American looks a certain way, lives a certain way, and acts a certain way. And because we feel that way we treat others poorly. But if I am saying I am proud to be an American, who is a black woman standing on the shoulders of those who came before me and endured unspeakable atrocities and hardships, then, “Yes! I am proud to be an American.” I am proud to be the American that my ancestors who lived as slaves after being brought to this country were not permitted to be. I am proud to be an American for the servicemen and women of color, who years ago when they returned from war were
met with disrespect and on some occasions death. I am proud to be an American because I believe that I was blessed to be born in a country during a time when I could at least have a shot at experiencing the American Dream encompassed by
the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I am proud to be an American because my Uncle, my Mother, my father, my step father, my Godfather, and many of my mentors and dear friends have served this country. I was going to
serve until I realized that based on the branch that was recruiting me I was to go to Basic training rather than to college right after high school—a deal breaker. So I found other ways to serve by sending care packages to troops
overseas in the war and by sending cards of encouragement to Marine recruits.
One can say that I wrestle with fully being able to say that I am proud to be an American because I think about all of the things that happen day-to-day within our borders that do not support equality and justice for all. If all means all then why do not all Americans experience the ‘liberty and justice for all’? Do I say the pledge daily? Yes, I say it daily to show appreciation, to show respect, and to set example for my students, who barely utter the words.
It may seem like I am not grateful to be an American, but the truth of the matter is, I am grateful. I am grateful that I live in a country during a time when I can go wherever I want to go and if at some point I am violated I can take legal action, something my great, great, great grandmother was not able to do. I am grateful that I can take advantage of the educational and career opportunities that were denied to my ancestors and even to women in other parts of the world. I am grateful that I can live where I choose to live, shop where I choose to shop, and be who I want to be. Yes, I am grateful. I am even grateful that I have the right to respectfully share my thoughts, more specifically this post that reveals the inward battle/ongoing conversation that I have with myself, as a woman in America. I am proud to be an American, who respects the people of the world that live outside and beyond her borders.
Is it fair for me to say that I support the men and women who serve our country whether as the President, an advisor, a congressmen, a service member and so on without having to digest that this country sometimes operates based on personal agendas and not universal ones? Internally, I feel like I am countering my morals and values if I say that I am proud to be an American without clarifying what that means to me.
If supporting each other as fellow Americans was truly embedded in our history and day-to-day actions, then we would not need reminders to reveal the importance of unity. Honestly, if it was not for my faith, I would be discouraged more often than not by the state of our country and the world.
I am proud to be an American, who is thankful for physical freedom and spiritual freedom. I am proud to be an American, who stands with other Americans who believe that all men, not just Americans, are created equal. I am proud to be that American.
Why can we not be 'one nation under God' all of the time and not just today when we are honoring the lives of those we lost and honoring those who answered the call? Not just on Veteran's Day? Why? Do we truly believe the words of "The Pledge of Allegiance" or understand Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech? Maybe we should see this day as a reminder to remember those we lost, to thank God for those who answered the call, and as a call to action--one that we answer daily, one that reminds us that ‘all are created equal.’
That's my twenty-nine cents. Blessings!