For an alternate viewpoint, see “Point: ‘Only in America,’ not ‘Once Upon a Time.’”
Although the last few years have been difficult for most Americans, there still is much to love about the country President Abraham Lincoln called “the last best hope of earth” and President Ronald Reagan labeled “the shining city on a hill.”
So, with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, here are just a few things I truly love about the United States.
First and foremost, I love that America was founded on the notion of individual freedom and self-governance in an era when absolute monarchies reigned supreme. As Thomas Jefferson eloquently put it in the Declaration of Independence, “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.”
We should remind ourselves every so often that the freedoms we enjoy as Americans are unique, and our nation was the birthplace of a then-radical idea that upended thousands of years of tyranny so that “We the People” could ultimately determine our destiny.
Second, I love that America’s Founding Fathers, after the failed Articles of Confederation, sought to erect a government that embodied the concepts put forth in the Declaration. Today, too many Americans take the principles established in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights for granted. However, they should understand that living in a country with strict limits on governmental power and surefire protection of individual rights is not the historical norm, it is the exception.
Third, I appreciate the foresight of the Founding Fathers in building a nation that bucked the mercantilist trend of the day and pursued a novel economic road that we now know as free-market capitalism. As Alexis de Tocqueville observed, “In no other country in the world is the love of property keener or more alert than in the United States, and nowhere else does the majority display less inclination toward doctrines which in any way threaten the way property is owned.”
When private property rights did not flourish, the United States introduced the world to the idea that government must respect the property rights of its citizens. Moreover, the United States instantly became known as the “land of opportunity” because it rewarded individual ingenuity, hard work and risk-taking, unlike almost all other countries at that point.
Even today, the United States remains the world’s economic engine, wherein practically all of the most life-changing technologies and innovations emanate. This would not be the case had the United States not embraced the economic philosophy now widely regarded as the greatest generator of wealth and prosperity in human history.
Fourth, the United States has, in general, fought the good fight in disseminating and ultimately defending liberty at home and around the world. Of course, the United States is not free of sin, and by no means is our history of upholding freedom untarnished.
From slavery to Jim Crow, the United States has had its fair share of atrocious action regarding not living up to its ideals. However, we fought a bitter war, in which 600,000 Americans died, over the issue of slavery. Nearly a century later, the civil rights movement ensured that all citizens, regardless of skin color, could enjoy the freedoms enshrined in our Constitution. And, to this day, the fight for equal rights marches on.
As an American, I am also proud of my nation’s history in defending freedom abroad, especially in World War II. For it is quite likely the world would be a much darker place today without the American war effort against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.
Last, I love that Americans, by and large, are generous, trustworthy, accepting, friendly and willing to help one another when in need. Throughout my life, I’ve encountered hundreds, if not thousands, of my fellow Americans who have not hesitated to lend a helping hand when they see someone, whether a neighbor, family member or total stranger in need of their support.
As Americans, we are truly blessed to live in this great nation. This Valentine’s Day, show some love for America. It is certainly well-deserved.