>America’s Birthday

>We had a great weekend, and I hope you all did too! Now that Leila is getting a little older, we are working at helping her understand things, like what it means to be an American. When we were at the Ski show last week the moment came when they played the national anthem and everyone stood quietly, except for Leila. We decided then that we needed to take the opportunity to teach our little lady a lesson.

On the way home we talked about what it means to be an American. I want Leila to feel pride in her country and appreciation for the sacrifices that others have made, and continue to make for our freedom. The problem is, I am generally not a patriotic person. That is not to say that I am not grateful to live in a free country where I have had many privileges, but I do my best to think of myself, and everyone else as equals. There is a fine line between pride and arrogance, and I want to be sure that my daughter appreciates the privileged life that she leads, without believing that she is better than anyone else, or more deserving.

As I tried to explain to her what makes America a special place to live, I was torn. I wanted to point out the nice houses we have lived in, the wide open spaces we have to play in, the abundance of food and the comforts of the western world that we experience every day. But I can’t help but think of all of the Americans who don’t have those luxuries that we have come to expect.

I spent a lot of time pondering this, and my own feelings about America in the days leading up to the 4th of July, and on that day I was reminded of my patriotism as I watched the 4th of July parade and later as I sat at home with Leila, playing patriotic songs on youtube. Lee Greenwood singing God Bless the USA brings tears to my eyes every time.

The National Anthem now nearly always reminds me of the first football game I attended at Kinnick Stadium after the September 11th attacks. I had stood in that stadium for the anthem countless times before, without giving it much thought. That day I know I had tears in eyes as the 70,000 fans in Kinnick stood in stoic silence during the singing of the national anthem, all of our hearts and minds were in the same place. Independence day takes me back to that place, that feeling of pride. I am so thankful for the privilege to call myself an American. Having lived in a time when our country was attacked has changed the way that I feel about a lot of things, but most notably: I am so proud of the American’s who put their country first, and grateful for their sacrifices. 2. I hope that as I age I continue to see American moving towards respect and understanding of those that are different than us.

God Bless America!

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