“I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the man who died and gave that right to me..”
I remember how incredibly patriotic I was growing up. I lived for the 4th of July, bled red, white, and blue, and thought America was the absolute best. This, like many other parts of my life, have drastically changed.
After visiting Berlin in 2014, I developed a strong interest in history. It first started with German history and then transitioned to American history. I started questioning why Americans, like myself, thought so highly of our country despite numerous political, economic, environmental, and societal issues. I started questioning why we were forced to sing the national anthem throughout elementary school, and what was even more frightening, why no one thought it was strange.
I recently had a great conversation with a friend about reflective patriotism. This conversation opened my eyes even more about just how patriotic Americans are and how problematic it is. For example, if you have an American passport, take a look through the pages. It’s filled with our national bird, the statue of liberty, ships crossing the Atlantic (probably transporting slaves), Mount Rushmore, etc. This always seemed normal to me, because these are all symbolic aspects of America. But take a look at another countries passport, I guarantee it won’t be designed with patriotic images like the American passport.
Why is this problematic, you may ask? With a “we’re the best” mindset, there’s not a lot of room left for growth. America is notoriously known for our horrible health care, education, and social issues. And if we’re instilled with a mindset that we’re the best country in the world and we do everything correctly then why would anyone think to make changes? I honestly thought college was just expensive throughout the world, obviously, I was wrong. (Partially why I moved to Germany to pursue a masters degree.) Why do we charge so much for higher education despite its importance in creating responsible, educated citizens? Why are so many people afraid to go to the hospital if they get hurt because of the chargers? WHY ARE BLACK PEOPLE BEING KILLED AT AN EXPONENTIAL RATE?!
Don’t get me wrong, I know each and every country has their own issues, but why do we, as Americans hold our selves to such a high standard despite these issues. I’ve met so many Germans that will talk to me about WWll, Germany’s cold war, and other historical issues. I haven’t experienced as much of this in the states. What I have heard is “I don’t like talking about our history with slavery because it makes me uncomfortable.” Honestly, I could care less about how you feel. Imagine how the people going through slavery felt. Imagine how the Vietnamese people felt after we invaded their country and started a war. Imagine how the Japanese slaves felt.
I believe open discussion is a great way to solve issues. So let’s get talking Americans! Let’s be the amazing country that we have the potential to be.
I love America, it’s where I grew up and spent most of my life. There are countless opportunities for success and truly great people, which is why I’m so critical. I want to go back to being proud of where I grew up.
I hope this post helps open your eyes a bit more about America’s patriotism and gets you thinking about what we can do to be better as a country.