I still cry when I hear the national anthem, still cry when I see soldiers in uniform proudly displaying the stars and stripes. I am proud to be an American.
But what does that mean? To me, being an American is like being part of a big club, where everybody has a job and a purpose and we're all heading in the same direction. Weird, I know, but when I go shopping and I look around, I see all different types of people here. Heavy, skinny, short, tall, black, brown, white. A cultural smorgasbord.
I can't live without the diversity of races. It's my comfort zone, to know that all these very different people with these very different backgrounds can all get along together in one place. It's the hope of all mankind.
G-d bless you, America. Keep you strong and free. No matter where I go, I will always be an American, see events through the eyes of an American, feel with the heart of an American. There may be Americans who don't feel that way. Maybe, deep down, they really aren't Americans. Even if they are born here, they aren't as American as the man or woman who come here and want to be American.
It's a gift to be American, and it's a gift I feel is slipping away. Sometimes I wonder if we've taken the American experiment as far as it can go before it all falls apart. We've been up against the ropes before, but the pending economic crash that lies ahead my not be so surmountable. We are not my parents generation, taught from an early age to sacrifice. We are a very spoiled bunch. Are we prepared to lose all we have and can we survive it?
Today's your birthday, America. The day G-d brought together a host of amazing people who felt there had to be a better way. Yes, they compromised on slavery, but they did it on their own terms: they made slaves count as 1/4 of a person in the census so the South could not use their labor to gain greater representation in the Congress.
Were there other mistakes? Plenty. But I live today free, through the sacrifice of many, and I appreciate that. There is no perfection in this world, and it's a waste of time to strive for it. Especially in government. We do the best we can. And we keep trying harder. That's the American way.