When I was 10, my bedroom was adorned with American flags. Whenever we visited monuments or historic sites, I would buy a flag souvenir. I wore a lot of red, white, and blue.
My dad used to tell me that being an American citizen was the greatest birthright anyone could give a child. Our liberties set us apart from every other country in the world. Basic American Documents is one of the reference books that sat next to his rocking chair. He pulled it down to discuss what it meant to "take the fifth" or to research the language in Roosevelt's Four Freedoms Speech. He taught me to treasure my freedom as an American. But he also insisted that with freedom comes many responsibilities.
My dad was a member of the Marine Corps in World War II. After the war, he went to China and worked for the United Nations Relief Agency from 1946 to 1949. He saw poverty, corruption, and the devastation of civil war.
He left China to work and travel throughout southeast Asia where he saw poverty, corruption, and political intrigue.
In the early 1960's, my dad began to write letters to senators, congressmen, and other public officials, arguing against American support for the corrupt government in Vietnam.
He kept writing those letters for more than 10 years. When people called him a liberal, he would say, "Why, I am conservative!" With a twinkle in his eye, he would share a bit of Franklin Roosevelt:
"Since the beginning of our American history we have been engaged in change--in a perpetual, peaceful revolution--a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly adjusting itself to changing conditions."
"So you see, I am a conservative. I like to preserve the American way."
I enjoyed wearing my American flag earrings today, for Flag Day, the day in 1777 when the stars and stripes were adopted as the official American flag.
Like my dad, I am proud to be an American. And proud that Americans seek to ensure that all people have freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.