I sometimes make casual, yet grandiose declarations like, “I’m not so patriotic.” It upsets my husband, among others, I’m sure. At times it embarrasses him, especially in places like Bakersfield, California.
I’ve changed my tune though since nuts people like Michele Bachman have channeled McCarthy with accusations that Obama and other members of Congress are “anti-American.”
I realize that I can be a proud American, even though I don’t agree with the politics or lifestyle of many of my fellow countrymen.
It’s true; I don’t like all things American. I don’t like hot dogs, or corn dogs for that matter. I was panic stricken that the huge American flag hanging in the beautiful portico at the DAR during the week of our wedding might end up in EVERY photo. It’s fine if you want to hang a flag, it’s just not my thing.
I am not proud when I see loud, sunburned sloppy tourists at the National Zoo drinking super-size sodas. Nor do I have any desire to bond with rich obnoxious Americans in Italy – speaking too loudly to waiters, complaining that the lovely breakfast buffet with its fresh fruits, heavenly breads, and wonderfully smelly cheeses doesn’t have any eggs and bacon.
I’m often more European in my mind-set. I like the siesta, the universal health care, the small portions of food, walking instead of driving, drinking wine in the middle of day. (I don’t however, like all the smoking, nor the dog shit in the alleys of otherwise charming cities.)
I’ve been known to rant about the “right to bear arms.”
I frequently question our reasons and motives for getting involved in wars.
And while I might never agree with the wars we enter into, I will always support and respect the soldiers who give up everything familiar, sacrifice their personal relationships, and risk their lives so that others can experience the freedoms of religion, press, speech, and education that I so often take for granted.
And in that, I am an American, and proud of it.
I am truly humbled by those who serve, and by the families who must survive without them.
The following image of a widow sleeping next to her husband’s casket was taken in 2005 by award winning photographer Todd Heisler. It captures an emotion I doubt I ever could in words. You can read more about it here or here.