Earlier this month, Barack Obama’s wife Michelle said that, “people in this country are ready for change and hungry for a different kind of politics and ee for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.”
At another speech later that day, she made a similar statement, saying that “for the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country ee not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change.”
I have no idea why any American, especially the spouse of a man who is a front-runner to be president of the United States, couldn’t call to mind thousands of reasons (other than her husband’s successful candidacy) to be proud of this country. But let’s recount a few:
“I’m proud of the soldiers who risk their lives to defend us. I’m proud of their families, whose sacrifices often go unnoticed.”
“I’m proud of educators who go to work every day to teach the next generation of American citizens.”
“I’m proud of emergency first responders, especially volunteers, who answer late-night calls and expose themselves to danger to save the lives of complete strangers.”
“I’m proud of America’s legacy of expanding freedom across the globe, whether on the beaches of Normandy or in the rubble of the Berlin Wall.”
“I’m proud of our system of self-government, where people are free to choose their elected leaders and transition of power is accomplished without bloodshed.”
“I’m proud of the way we pulled together on Sept. 12, 2001.”
“I’m proud of America’s innovative role in developing treatments for diseases, thereby increasing our quality of life and life expectancy.”
“I’m proud of immigrants who come here from across the globe in pursuit of the American dream, and who honor our rules and traditions by going through the legal process to become citizens.”
“I’m proud of the men and women who raise their kids with the values of hard work, personal responsibility and an awareness of what a privilege it is to be an American.”
“I’m proud of Republicans, Democrats and members of third parties who would put their names on a ballot, at any level of government, because they care about their country and are willing to serve it.”
“I’m proud of our country’s tradition of giving to others, both to those in our midst and those across the globe, especially when that work is done privately or through missions.”
The list could go on for pages, but of course I don’t have pages. When we speak of having pride in this country, the real challenge is figuring out where to stop — not, as Mrs. Obama’s comments suggest, where to start.
Rob Witwer is the state representative for House District 25, which encompasses most of western Jefferson County.