Patriotic Symbols of the United States of America/DepositPhoto

Happy Birthday America, we can do better

By Emily Geddes

I love my country. The 1776 statement, “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,” shook the foundations of civilization and changed the world. I am deeply grateful for the completely unearned privilege of being born here and the freedoms I enjoy — and too often take for granted — because of that.

As the first words of the Constitution indicate, this country is “We the People.” Because I love my country, I want us to be better. I expect us to live up to the high ideals we claim. When we do, I celebrate and highlight our successes. And when we don’t, I point it out and do what I can to put us on the right track again.

With James Baldwin, I say, “I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”

With EmmyLou Harris, I claim, “Patriotism can be good or bad. Knee-jerk patriotism can be very bad. I’m patriotic almost to the point of self-consciousness, but I love my country the way I love a friend or a child who I would correct if she was going the wrong way. Who I expect the very best from.”

With Dwight Eisenhower, I declare, “There is nothing wrong with America that the faith, love of freedom, intelligence and energy of her citizens cannot cure.”

So, happy 242nd birthday, dear U.S. of A. “We the People” are here for you, we’re still a work in progress, and we’re certainly not giving up.

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