I don’t have a flag hanging from my front porch and I don’t have a flag pin. I have no intention of buying either. I am proud to be an American and always have been. I salute the flag but have no need to display it.
Raised by two liberals, one a teacher, the other a social worker, I was taught about the tenets upon which this nation was founded. My upbringing was infused with a strong sense of knowing right from wrong and a belief that is was incumbent on me as an American to champion everyone’s right to equal opportunity.
America in my mind was a place where we could challenge the system to do better. It was a place that even when we got it wrong there was a commitment to work for a better day.
Even though I was very young, I marched in a candlelight vigil when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. I wore a black armband to school after Kent state. My protest and my passion for standing up for what I believe was encouraged by my parents. Knowing that I could do so without fear in the United States made me proud of this country.
My past or future criticism of what we do as a nation does not make me unpatriotic. Rather it makes me more of a patriot because I, in my estimation, am standing up for what I believe to be best for the United States. While others may not agree, the discourse is part of how we govern in an open and free society. The people have the right to speak freely without threat of harm.
The founding fathers made no mistake when the very first amendment to the Constitution said this,
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
After living under an oppressive regime, they understood how important it was for the people to engage with the government, they knew that the press and the truth-telling of both would help to provide the necessary controls on politicians and on power.
The press has never ever been the enemy. They are not now. Our need for the press and for it to do its job is greater than any other time in our history.
No patriotic American would advocate silencing the press.
To do so would fly in the face of all this nation has stood for and all that our veterans have sacrificed for. Those that have fought on our behalf didn’t do so because they were fighting for a flag. They were fighting for what that flag stands for, for this great nation and all of its people. Not a select few, not just the Christians, not just white people, not just heterosexuals, not just men but all Americans.
Tomorrow we celebrate our independence and as we do so we should remember that a great America is one that doesn’t shy away learning from its mistakes. A great America challenges itself to do better, to be more equal, more compassionate and to provide merciful justice. The truth must prevail. Not party, not power, but the truth.