In 1776 a small group of men got together. Although English by birth their goal was to form a new nation—what was to become the United States. Insofar as National Pride, it became a reality on that day that our forefathers announced their intended separation from England.
Over the course of more than two centuries the United States has found itself engaged in many battles. On our own soil we fought against the British, we fought each other, and now we are engaged in fighting a form of tyranny which is contrary to any civilized nation. Americans have also intervened in the battles of other nations: We contributed our share of combatants to World Wars One and Two. Following the close of the Second World War, we gave again in Korea and later, Viet Nam. Later generations fought in the Persian Gulf and now in Afghanistan. Regardless of where the fighting has taken us, we go because of our belief in National Pride and the belief that our nation can contribute to a peaceful universe. Where we go, why we go, who we help—can all be summed up in the tune, America. The words were written by Samuel Francis Smith. For me the catch-all phrase is: sweet land of liberty.
In the hundred year span from the early 1800s to the early 1900s, the United States experienced wave after wave of immigrants, most of them coming from various European nations. The Irish, the Scots, and Germans are well-represented in the United States. Later the Middle European nations such as Poland, Czechoslovakia, Lithuania, and parts of Russia sent their poor to our shores. These different immigrants, each with their own language, religion, and customs, arrived at the shores of United States with the goal of assimilation. They wanted to be Americans first and representatives of the countries of their birth as an afterthought. On America’s west coast, both Chinese and Japanese wanted to become Americans. The Chinese arrived in the United States as cheap labor to lay the railroads. The Japanese arrived because our western –most shore (Hawaii) is such as scant distance from the Japanese mainland. Blacks were brought to the United States as slaves. Over the course of more than two centuries they have worked diligently to take their rightful places among all of the groups which represent America. Regardless of from where the people originally came, the single most object of their existence is their National Pride—not so much in those countries from which their ancestors came, but pride in knowing that working together for a single cause they are now identified as Americans.
Within the last couple of decades, the United States has been faced with two issues that affect our National Pride. The first issue involves our neighbors to our South. These people enter the United States, earning income and taxing our national services including law enforcement, our schools, and hospitals. Because they do not choose to take residency in the United States, instead returning south of the border when their working day is complete, they also contribute nothing to our nation’s support. This is an affront to our Nation’s Pride, and something which in time to come, will have to be resolved. The final assault to our Nation’s Pride took place in New York City on September 11, 2001. It has been difficult for our nation to accept the fact that Muslims, like people of other faiths, are generally God-fearing and want nothing more than to take pride in being Americans. These individuals need to be separated from the few radicals who hate everybody and who want to overthrow any government which does not subscribe to their way of life.
National Pride is a work in progress. Our Founding Fathers envisioned a nation where every citizen would be treated equally. Yet, in their definition of National Pride they excluded Blacks and women. Lincoln expressed National Pride as a union united. Yet, Jefferson Davis saw National Pride as two nations occupying the same soil. Americans see the World Wars, later followed by Korean, Viet Nam, and now Afghanistan as stopping the spread of tyranny. People from abroad define National Pride as working together to make a homeland where everybody can have some say, some piece of the action. There is no static definition of National Pride. Rather, it will continue to evolve for as long as the people living in these United States have differences of opinion and different expectations for their children.