How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on Earth enjoy!  -Thomas Jefferson

America is a blessed nation.  Like no other place on earth, we are fantastically wealthy.

90% of American teenagers own a computer and a cell phone.  Our public high schools offer free and equal education to all, giving every single girl or boy with the vision to take it a huge head start in life.  We have enough to eat…very few Americans are forced to skip meals.  Millions of African children are starving and malnourished…millions of Americans are overweight.  We can walk into any grocery store and see more food in seconds then many third world countries will see in a year.

Any time we are in trouble or danger, we can pick up a phone, dial 911, and receive free assistance from state emergency workers who are diligently trained to save lives and fight crime.  If your house is on fire, local firefighters will be there within seconds to protect the home that you hold dear.  If your life is being threatened, policemen and women will be there to help you.  If you are sick, state emergency workers will be there to take care of you, whether you are a multi-millionaire or a homeless person living on the streets.  And if you even just want to send a letter to your mom or dad, your brother or sister, your grandparent or your best friend, you can stick a $0.42 stamp on the upper right-hand corner of a paper envelope and drop it in a mail slot.  Without paying any kind of subscription fee, your loved one will be reading your words within days.  We are incredibly blessed.

Whenever we want, we can travel from New York to Los Angeles without paying a toll to pass through each state.  Every year, we have a say in who our officials will be.  We do not have to pay a cent in order to cast the votes that will help determine the future of our children and our children’s children.  How quickly we forget what a blessing this is.  How quickly we forget the thousands of men and women who have died in defense of this right.

Americans complain about President Bush and the War in Iraq.  Have we forgotten?  Every single deployed soldier is a volunteer.  We are fighting with 100% volunteer troops.  Praise God, President Bush has protected the nation from a general draft.  Citizens derail, mock, scorn, threaten, and hate the leader of our nation.  Have we forgotten that Tuesday morning in 2001 when millions of Americans were in terror for the future?  No more attacks have occurred on our soil in the years since September 11th.  President Bush has done a fine job of protecting the spoiled Americans who hate him, and so have the excellent men and women who are putting their lives on the line by putting on a soldier’s uniform and fighting to protect the ungrateful families “back home”.  Theirs is a thankless job, and it is often worse than thankless.  One of my best friends is now training in Marine boot camp.  He has been mocked and called a “baby killer” while in uniform.  He is risking his own life, his own bright future, for American families.  My friend is fighting to protect the right of Americans to mock him.  He is fighting to protect the rights, free speech included, of those who hate him.  I am thankful for our volunteer armies, and I praise God for them.

We are a spoiled, pampered people.  We are richly blessed and sickeningly ungrateful.  We have more than any other nation on this earth.  Americans need a wake-up call.  September 11th may have been that wake-up call, but we have forgotten it.  We need to get outside of ourselves and our selfish worlds and complaints.  Even with a struggling economy, we are still richer and fatter than any other people group alive.  Even with gas prices rising and falling like the 757’s that transport us from “sea to shining sea”, we are still spending time with our loved ones at every holiday.

Chose today to give yourself a reality check.  Open your eyes and look around you.  Stop being blinded by complaints and woes and worries.  Remember what Jesus said, “Which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? …Tomorrow will take care of itself.”  Stop reading alarmist articles by ungrateful journalists and pundits.  And start being thankful.  Look around you at this beautiful country.  There is so much diversity here…deserts and beaches, mountains and plains, lush farm lands and advanced cities, golden prairies and rolling hills, canyons and vistas, snow-capped mountaintops and balmy oceansides.  In any city at any time, we can hear dozens of different languages being spoken.  That’s because millions of people all across the world have heard of the opportunities offered in America and have left everything they knew to come here.  They have literally risked their lives in just the hope of receiving the benefits and liberties we enjoy every day without even thinking about it.  This truly is the land of opportunity.  How many of your ancestors made the journey here in hope of better things for themselves and their children.  You are one of those children.  When was the last time you thanked God for the sacrifices they made to ensure your happiness?

Thank God for what you have.  Make a decision to stop being ungrateful, and to start thanking Him for everything you have.  Make a decision to change.  And then start working to change the things you don’t like.

After all, you can do that. 

Because this is America.

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“But the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.” Daniel 11:32

“All of us who acknowledge a belief in our Judeo-Christian heritage must reaffirm that belief and join forces to reclaim those great principles.” -Ronald Reagan

“Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote…that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his Country.” -Samuel Adams

“It is the duty of nations, as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptues and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.” -Abraham Lincoln

“Our Constitution was made only for a moal and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” -John Adams

“We recognize no Sovereign but God, and no King but Jesus.” -John Adams and John Hancock

“It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.” -Patrick Henry

“It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” -George Washington

“If we and our posterity reject religious instruction and authority, violate the rules of eternal justice, trifle with the injuctions of moality, and recklessly destroy the political constitution which holds us together no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us that shall bury all our glory in profound obscurity.” -Daniel Webster

“The time has come to turn back to God and reassert our trust in Him for the healing of America.” -Ronald Reagan

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our destruction if it come at all, will be from…the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence.” -Daniel Webster

“I urge you, by all that is dear, by all that is honorable, by all that is sacred, not only that ye pray but that ye act!” -John Hancock

“If the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made not for the public good so much as for the selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizens will be violated or disregarded.” -Noah Webster

“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.” -John Adams

“Action by the citizen in person…constitutes the essence of a Republic.” -Thomas Jefferson

“Let not your childen have reason to curse you for giving up those rights and prostrating those institutions which your fathers delivered to you.” -Rev. Matthias Burnet

Why are we ashamed to be Americans?

 

Most of my great-grandparents were immigrants. Some came from Ireland, others from the Azore Islands. I have German, Irish, French, Dutch, and Portuguese blood in me. My grandmother came from Canada. Her parents were German refugees living in Russia and fleeing persecution during World War I. My great-great-great-grandmother on my mother’s side was a Southern belle living in Richmond during the Civil War. She married a Yankee soldier (they lived in peace, apparently, although they argued a lot over whether Lee or Grant was the better general!). My great-great grandfather was an attorney working for President Franklin Roosevelt and battling for Irish rights. On my father’s side, my Portuguese ancestors risked everything and left the St. George and Terceira islands of the Azores to come to California. They worked hard, cowboying and working on dairy ranches to provide for their families. Up until recently, my great-grandfather’s ranch in the Central Valley of California was still in our family. His old white barn and the beautiful ranch house where my grandfather was born still stand today.

 

Every path to America is different. To some, it is a place of refuge. To others, it is a promised land. Some come to America for safety. Others come to find a better life for those they love. Every single story is different. What are the stories in your family?

A study called the Bradley Project recently discovered something very saddening about our nation. Rather than focusing on the good in our nation, many public schools cast a decidedly distasteful light on America. Here’s what the Project had to say:

 “…schools should not slight their civic mission by giving students the impression that America’s failures are more noteworthy than America’s achievements. They should begin with the study of America’s great ideas, heroes, and achievements, so that its struggles can be put in perspective. A broad-minded, balanced approach to the American story best prepares young people for informed democratic participation.”

~The Bradley Project

That’s what inspired me to begin this journal. I have learned about and met many brave, heroic, self-sacrificial Americans who make this nation a beautiful place to live. I feel blessed to live here and to learn from their legacy, and I feel that no life lived generously and well should be forgotten or dismissed. This journal is a study in what makes America beautiful.I don’t believe we need to be ashamed of America. No nation…no nation…is perfect, and so as well the USA is flawed. The pages of American history books are marred by sinners and scandals, just as every history book is because human nature does not change. But America’s pages have also been touched by the hand of a gracious God, as proven by countless men and women in this great land. And each life that helped to make this country a place of freedom and refuge deserves to be remembered.

That is the purpose of this project. I hope you will be inspired to love America a little bit more, even as you learn from its mistakes. After all, America is not great because of its ideals or its principles or its rulings.

America is great because of its people.