Are you still proud to be an American?

When we turn on the radio during this year’s Fourth of July fireworks show, we’ll all be reminded that Lee Greenwood is still “Proud to be an American.”

But are you?

That would have been a silly question a few generations ago, back when people still recognized how rare our opportunities really are and still knew the true cost of our freedoms. Many had lived without such things, so they were extremely proud to live in a nation where they were abundant.

As Bob Dylan sang, “… the times they are a-changin’.”

A recent poll released by FOX News showed that only a tad more than half of all Americans — an embarrassing 51-percent — said they were proud of our country. A whopping 42-percent responded in the negative, actually saying they were not, with the remaining 7-percent not really knowing how they feel.

On the one hand, that’s sad. There’s so much we have to be proud of and thankful for.

On the other, that’s pretty darn enraging. What is the matter with these people? Have we become a nation of ungrateful, spoiled brats?

I guess so, but before you shrug of these abysmal numbers to the “Blame America First” crowd, know that the poll also found that only 61-percent of Republicans said they were proud of America. This, from a party that wraps itself in the flag. Something is amiss.

Sure, the poll also showed that only 39-percent of Democrats are proud of our country, but that makes sense. Much of their party’s platform is about dismantling our unique American traditions and replacing them with European imports.

They would probably be proud of their country, if it was only named…Sweden.

But for so many Republicans to be down on America, well, that’s heartbreaking.

Personally, I couldn’t be more proud of my country. It’s beautiful and I love it, as Oliver Cromwell said, “warts and all.”

When I hear Greenwood’s song on the Fourth of July, or sing the National Anthem at a football game, seeing our flag snap in the wind and hearing the voices of my countrymen rise in unison, my heart swells with pride, a lump grows in my throat, and this normally quiet introvert actually cries in public.

I’m not alone. There are others who share similar feelings about our great country, but there should be many more. We have plenty of reasons, and here are just a few that spring to mind:

— We are the most generous nation in the world. Our government leads all nations in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts, and American citizens personally give far more to charity than those in other countries. And even when other nations do step up, like the global response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, they couldn’t do it without the United States leading the way.

— Americans are creative and industrious. We dream big but do even bigger. We regularly lead the world in patent applications, and nearly everything that has made the world healthier, safer, more comfortable, and convenient was invented or improved upon by Americans.

— Generations of us have spread and defended liberty throughout the world, often at great costs in blood and treasure, and for little or no reward. And where our government stops, the people begin. Americans lead the world in missionaries, spreading the Gospel of Christ to all nations and helping the poorest and most under-served along the way.

— We’ve been blessed with the ability to establish and maintain a political and economic order that has essentially eradicated true poverty and hunger within our borders. Meanwhile, we can not only feed ourselves, we feed much of the world.

— And just as someone would be proud of a well-maintained lawn and a nicely built and cleanly kept home, Americans should be proud of our countryside and our cities and all of the comforts and well-ordered services within. People who have traveled in all of those “better” European nations know what I’m talking about.

— Then there’s all that “freedom” stuff — religion, assembly, due process, to bear arms, and the rest.

I could write more, of course, but that brings me to the reason I’m most proud to be an American.

I can.

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