Thursday, March 05, 2009

Why I Feel As I Do About America

A few evenings ago, I was working on creating ‘home movie’ DVDs using content from our family’s video camera. I came across a clip from last spring of my son’s junior high band concert. The concert began with the band’s rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. Throughout the song, the audience rose and paid homage to the U.S. Flag posted in front of the band.

The band’s performance of our National Anthem was actually pretty poor. If you’re a musician, you will know that it is a difficult song to play. Still, as I watched the clip I reflected on the tender feelings that arose within me during the song. I never cease to feel a thrill each time I see the U.S. Flag honored. I still feel inspired each time I pledge allegiance to our republic.

In the days since I watched that video clip, I have pondered why I feel the way I do about my country and what patriotism means to me. I have determined that I feel about America much as did Gordon B. Hinckley, who said:
“I love America for her great and brawny strength, the products of her vital factories and the science of her laboratories. I love her for the great intellectual capacity of her people. I love her for their generous hearts. I love her for her tremendous spiritual strengths. She is unique among the nations of the earth - in her discovery, in her birth as a nation, in the amalgamation of the races that have come to her shores, in the consistency and strength of her government, in the goodness of her people.”
I too love America. I love her for the ideals and principles of liberty upon which she was founded. I love her natural and man-made beauties. I love her for the great amount of good she has accomplished and which ordinary free Americans achieve on their own. Perhaps more than anything else, I love her for the hope she inspires in individuals domestically and throughout the world.

The United States of America is the greatest nation on the face of the earth today. It is a grand place, but it is not a perfect place. While it seems vogue in some circles to see only America’s faults, problems, and failures to live up to her stated ideals, I believe America is wonderful and beautiful even when all of these are considered.

And I do believe that it is very wise to consider America’s flaws. But I also feel that it is wrong to make them the central feature of our individual view of America. To do so is to ignore the greater grandeur of the whole picture.

To me, a true American is one that loves this country with his eyes wide open. A true American feels rapture when the U.S. Flag is raised and when he sings the National Anthem, regardless of which political faction is in control at the moment. A true American stands proudly by America when she is in the right and lovingly works to correct her when she strays.

My personal belief is that America has often been and can still be a tool in God’s hands to accomplish much good in this world. From that perspective, I agree with Ronald Reagan’s paraphrase of Lincoln’s 1862 annual address to Congress that America is “the last best hope of man on earth.”

The present times seem dismal. Indeed, gloom is now broadcast continuously from most sources. It is possible and even probable that matters may get far worse. But I believe that Americans will come through this crisis and survive to conquer many future problems with their heads held high, and that they will be better off for having done so.

This is what we do. We are, after all, Americans.

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