I hate complaining. I do it all the time, but I hate it because when it comes down to it, what do I really have to complain about? I have a roof over my head, food on my plate and clothes on my back. I own my own car. I have money in my bank account. I have a job that I love. I have a family that supports me. I have friends that love me. I’m so lucky, and I wish I could keep constantly reminding myself of this. All of the things I have, all of the things I love, all of the opportunities I’m presented with, these are all things that not everyone in this world, or even this country, can say, and I’m so fortunate that I have them all.
Growing up in a military family is a completely different lifestyle that only the people who have experienced it can understand. I was pretty much born and bred to love my country. To be proud of my heritage and where I come from. I said the Pledge of Allegiance with pride with my hand placed over my heart. I sang along and stood at attention when the National Anthem played. I hugged my father after every single one of his returns from deployment. I sat fascinated watching the planes fly at every Air Show. I felt joy every time I saw a woman or man donning their uniform. I thank a veteran every chance I get. I am literally proud to be an American because of my upbringing.
Being an American means having freedom. The freedom to be who you want to be without judgment. It means being able to get the education you need to accomplish your goals. It means that no matter if you’re black, white, gay, straight, American-born, an immigrant, female or male, you have the freedom to live your life how you want. It means that you have the freedom to express yourself in whatever ways make sense to you. It means that you can create goals and accomplish them however you want to. Being an American means you’re living in the land of the free.
Being an American means having opportunity. You have the opportunity to do whatever you want with your own life. You get to determine your future by shaping your present. You make your decisions without the hindrance of everyone else. You have the opportunity to achieve your goals, your hopes, your dreams.
Being an American means having hope. Hope for the future and hope for things to progress and be better than you can ever imagine. It means that even when we’re held back by other people, laws or even ourselves, there’s still hope for a better tomorrow. It means that no matter how dim things look right now, there’s always hope for a brighter future because America really is the home of the brave.
Being an American means being proud of the country you have the privilege to be a part of. This is why Memorial Day is such a beautiful and solemn holiday. There are so many people who have laid down their lives to fight for freedoms that they didn’t even get the chance to enjoy. Today, we thank, remember and celebrate those who have died while serving in our military. Because of these people, I get to enjoy my freedom. Because of these people, I’m proud to be an American.