Tuesday, July 5, 2016

It's OKAY to be Proud to be an American

Some years ago someone commented to me that it's unChristian to be patriotic the way Americans specifically, are patriotic.  When I pressed for specific details, comments about barbecues, fireworks, celebrations and general revelry and often drunkenness were given as examples. Because clearly, American Christians are the only people on the planet that engage in celebrating this way. (insert eye roll here)  While I certainly don't advocate for drunkenness I can attest to nearly 20 years of living in Canada and being among Canadian Christians who celebrate Canada Day in nearly the same, identical way Americans celebrate the 4th of July. Food, family, fun, fireworks. I say "nearly" the same way but I can't honestly think of anything that's different.

Every year as the 4th of July approaches, I see more and more condemnation of celebrating.  As if, being proud of your heritage and the people who helped craft our country's beginnings is something to be ashamed of. The older I get the more opportunity I have to think about this and just have to wonder if some of these folks who look down at being patriotic have really missed an important point.

I was raised by a single mother who taught her children the value of hard work, being honest, loving God, and getting along with folks.  I am proud to be Estella's daughter and I am not ashamed to say it. Her influence and her teaching and her passion about things were passed down to me and I'm honored and better for it.

She was raised by parents who taught her the value of hard work, earning your keep, taking care of your own, and putting family first.  I am proud to be the grand daughter of Harry and Zora and I am not ashamed to say it. Their influence on my mom, and on myself as well growing up, were passed down to me and I'm honored and better for it.

Their parents, and their parents before them, and through several generations back, my people have come from a long line of folks that had strong moral values, religious beliefs, a strong work ethic and passed them on to the generations after them.  Granted, not all of them were like this I'm sure, but plenty of them were.  There were pastors, teachers, seamstresses, factory workers, carpenters, machinists, homemakers and farmers peppered all through my family tree of generations past. I can trace my line on both maternal and paternal sides back to England, Scotland and France going back just under 900 years. On both sides, my family came to what is now the USA in the late 1600's and they stayed there. They lived there, worked the land, raised their families, and taught them values they in turn passed down to their children, and on it went.

This is my heritage and I'm proud of their hard work, dedication, and the values they passed down from one generation to the next. While we originally came from another place, there are 300+ years of Americans in my blood line on both sides of my family.   These people were in many ways, no different from all the men who's names are associated with the US Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence. They came to the new world, they stayed there, they lived & worked there and they died there.  They would have believed these words from the Declaration of Independence that state

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

These words of the US Constitution:

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

And these words from the Bill of Rights:

"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."

Celebrating your heritage or being a patriotic person doesn't take away from one's Christian faith, in any way.  No more than celebrating your mother's birthday does.

Of course we're not celebrating the current state of the country today (there's not much there to celebrate, to be honest) but we're honoring and remembering our heritage and that's always a very good thing.  Lest we forget our very own history.