Why I Love America

The United States of America is the greatest country on Earth. I have visited over twenty countries across four continents and not one of them offers as much liberty, prosperity, and opportunity as America. I’m not saying it’s perfect. This country has made plenty of mistakes and will continue to do so. But I don’t believe that makes it any less great or that we should erase its history. This 4th of July, during tumultuous times when people are losing patriotism and faith in America, it is doubly important to remember the core of what America stands for, what it has always stood for, and why, despite our shortcomings, I am proud to be an American.

There are so many beautiful, noble things that make America great, but I hope, through these little stories, to share a glimpse with you of why I love my country.

And, if you make it to the end, I have a little surprise for you. 😉

My house’s flag

Airports are fascinating places. They are often the first place – and the immigration officers are often the first people – to welcome foreigners (and citizens) into a country. I have noticed striking contrasts between the immigration officers of each country I’ve been to, differences that highlight their respective cultures.

Vietnam. An officer with a stern face that couldn’t be flatter in 2 dimensions. I slide him my passport. He flips it open. Glances at me. Scans it. Stamps it. Slides the passport back. I thank him in Vietnamese and if I’m lucky, he gives a curt nod.

Russia. An officer with a stern, similarly flat face. I slide my passport. She flips it open. Glances at me. Scans it. Stamps it. Slides the the passport back. I thank her in Russian. The flat face blossoms into a surprised and pleased beam. She says your welcome and wishes me a nice day.

China. An officer with stern, flat face. I slide my passport. She flips it open. Glances at me. Scans it. Stamps it. Slides the passport back. I thank her in Chinese and she ignores me.

Germany. Panama. Croatia. Egypt. Greece. All the same.

America. An officer gives me a huge smile and says hello as I slide my passport. He flips it open, glances at me and jokes about how he can’t recognize me because I’m wearing glasses. He scans it, stamps it, and cheerfully comments, “Do you have any idea how many times I’ve done this?” Then he slides it back. I thank him, and he grins.

“Welcome home!”

Every single time I come home, the officer is friendly, kind, and cheerful. We Americans are blessed with peace and prosperity and hope, and our optimistic attitudes reflect this. It always warms my heart.

Mount Rushmore, USA

When my family and I returned to the States after living overseas for a few months, one of the things which struck me was the vast amounts of choices at the grocery store. Everything from apples to milk to chip flavors to soaps had about two dozen different options. Before, I’d taken the choices for granted, but upon my return, it was overwhelming.

But abroad, there is often only one option. If you’re lucky, two or three. Of course, different countries specialize in different products (for example, there was an abundance of cosmetics and wine in France), but in general, I saw none of the widespread prosperity here in America.

It really is the land of milk and honey.

Niagra Falls, USA

I waited in an immensely long immigration line with my family, my eyelids heavy with fatigue and overall jet lag. I’d woken up at 4:30 am and flown for over twenty hours across the Pacific Ocean. Now, I was standing in the San Francisco airport. Barely standing. The line looped back and forth, several times, so long I knew we would miss our next flight. I dreaded the thought that we would have to sit in the airport for several more hours.

Inching forward slowly, we eventually neared the front of the crowded line. It broke off into three lines for separate immigration officers. I headed over to one line with my family, but a woman behind us hurried ahead and planted herself in front of us. We exchanged glances but didn’t say anything.

Then I heard protesting behind us. A Japanese man had ducked underneath the line divider rope while he still had a whole length of line to go. An American guy called him out, told him he was cutting and it wasn’t fair for everyone else who had waited their turn. They argued back and forth until eventually the Japanese man protested that the woman had done the same thing.

The American then said words that made me swell with pride for my country, words I will never forget. “Just because someone else does something wrong doesn’t mean you should do it too.”

This, more than any other reason, is what America stands for. Yes, we are the land of liberty. But contrary to common belief, freedom is not the chance to do whatever you want. Freedom gives you the opportunity to do what is right.

Yellowstone, USA

Nations have been rising and falling for all of history. What makes the birth of America anything special? Because it was founded on new principles: equality, inalienable rights, and self-government. We have a unique opportunity to really help humanity because we are blessed to live in a nation which guarantees us freedom – the chance to do what is right.

I do not say we are the greatest country on Earth out of an arrogant assumption that we are better than everyone else, that Americans have a higher concentration of character than any other people. In fact, I believe human nature is the same everywhere, that there are noble people and selfish people everywhere. But in the words of one of my favorite presidents, President Calvin Coolidge:

We can only make America first in the true sense which that means by cultivating a spirit of friendship and good will, by the exercise of the virtues of patience and forbearance, by being “plenteous in mercy”, and through progress at home and helpfulness abroad standing as an example of real service to humanity.

“Toleration and Liberalism” 1925

Colorado Mountains, USA

And now for the surprise…

My brother Micah and I put together a little gift for you in celebration of America’s birthday. 🙂

9 thoughts on “Why I Love America

  1. Thank you for writing this, Elisha! It is such a blessing. Too many “academics” are teaching people to hate our country and that needs to stop. You are correct, we are not a perfect union. We have our flaws and faults the same as any other nation, but we had always tried to learn from our mistakes and strive to do better. We are the most generous nation, and we honor God’s chosen nation Israel, and from that have received God’s blessings too.
    We need to retain our heritage. Relearn what our Founders stood for and why.
    My wife and I travel too and it is always so good to return home. I’ve been in those passport lines and can attest to the truth of exactly what you wrote. My wife is an immigrant from Russia and a very proud American Citizen with a deep love for this country and its original promises written in our founding documents. She was already here as a permanent resident when I first met her and we followed all of the proper rules to getting legal citizenship both for her and eventually for her widowed mother. I have stood in many long lines in early hours and sometimes in the cold wind and rain with my girl doing these things the God honoring way.
    God holds us accountable for what we do with our liberty. Someone else’s wrong never justifies ours. We serve a Higher Judge that bought and paid for us with His own blood. Our liberty extends from Him. (Galatians 5:1)
    So many factions and wrong-headed ideas are sowing division in our country to pull us apart and get us fighting against ourselves. I hope to combat some of that through my own fiction writing.
    So many people just tacitly think the phrase “there is strength in our diversity” is praiseworthy, but most fail to recognize a fatal flaw in that unqualified idea. Our strength is in connection and in unity with that connection.
    Diversity is okay, so long as it does not divide us and marginalize us. God created the uniqueness of persons from all over the globe, and we celebrate His design, but we must find and celebrate most what is common to all of us, and unify behind those shared values.
    We must be connected to Jesus, The Vine, to be a fruitful tree. We must be united in purpose and cause to be a strong nation or community.
    Psalm 133:1 says: “Behold, how good and how pleasant [it is] for brethren to dwell together in unity!”
    Ecclesiastes 4:12 says: “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”
    Satan tends to skew the truth by carefully coordinated and subtle shifts rather that an all-out assault on the truths that we hold as self-evident.

    Hope to see you on Story Embers sometime.
    Happy Fourth of July!
    God Bless! Thank you for sharing the song with us. We have visited Fort McHenry and the Baltimore Harbor where Francis Scott Key wrote the words witnessing the protracted attack by British ships on that small fort, and its flag held up by patriots through that long night.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Amen, I could not agree with you more! My mother went through the same process when she became a citizen from Vietnam. It was long and often hard, but yes, doing things the right way is always the best, and we will often be blessed for it!

      Thank you for sharing those verses and thoughts on division and unity. Such great points! We need to get this message out to more people, so it’s fantastic that you’ll be weaving them into your writing. I hope to do the same with mine!

      Happy Fourth! Your visit to Fort McHenry sounds so cool. I would love to go there one day!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Absolutely beautiful post. Thank you for boldly proclaiming your love for your country. It is a good reminder. I love “Freedom give you the opportunity to do what is right.” Very true. And lovely playing!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Lovely post! It was so interesting to hear about the different experiences you’ve had in other countries. And I enjoyed hearing you and your brother play! It’s always so wonderful to play with family, isn’t it? Great job to both of you!

    Liked by 2 people

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