I write this blog on July 4th, 2022, the 246th anniversary of our nation’s Independence Day. As an intellectual with a doctorate from a major university, I find myself criticizing lots of things, not least my country. Back in the 1960s as a recent college graduate and, after 1966, a Ph.D., I was saying not “Right or wrong, my country!” but “My country, if right support it, if wrong correct it!” The latter has been my position ever since. I suspect the same is true of many of my fellow educated Americans. As a group we tend to be allergic to the hyper-nationalism that blinds us to our shortcomings as a nation and makes improvement difficult. Indeed, we are all called by our Constitution to help create “a more perfect Union.” Nothing human is perfect a-priori. Continuous improvement through collective effort is the order of this day and beyond...
Still, there are lots of qualities of the United States that are admirable, and I’ll confess that I often emphasize its shortcomings rather than its virtues. Let’s begin with the transfer of Presidential power to Joe Biden in January 2021. The key fact is that despite Donald Trump’s large following and the January 6th invasion of the Capitol, that transfer still took place. The Union was wounded, but it nevertheless held together. Truth triumphed. To continue, the United States was a major, perhaps decisive, participant in the two World Wars. Unlike all the other combatant nations on either side, we were spared more than minor civilian casualties and no destruction of buildings, public or private, in the American homeland, the Japanese December 7th 1941 attack on Hawaii excepted. Geography, the then levels of technology, and luck all played a role. Still, I feel blessed to live in a country where I was not forced like my late German wife to become a child refugee in my own land in 1945. My country was safe. I was also blessed to live in a country where my parents, both children of Eastern European Jewish immigrants, were able to get good educations for their day and climb into a comfortable position in the American middle class. From there they could give my sister and me the best educations money could buy. After four years at a Protestant prep school, Yale took me in among the Rockefellers, Pillsburys, Heinzes, and Bushes and later gave me an all-expenses-paid graduate education. Then there is the matter of the availability of good medical care as I grew up and the excellent provisions of Medicare for me now, not to mention Medicaid and its state equivalents for those financially unable to pay for personal medical expenses. Is the system perfect? Few human systems are, and there are examples of better universal healthcare elsewhere. Still, my America has always been there for me and many others over my 82-plus years on the Planet.
These are just a few examples of the virtues of America the Beautiful. Space prevents me from mentioning more. So, on this Independence Day, let me remember and be grateful for the blessings that are our birthright as Americans. Long live the U.S. of A.!