05 July 2005

Patriotism

We celebrated the Fourth of July yesterday with a Ukrainian and an Uzbek. They are both here as students and both are grateful for the opportunity they have to go to school here in the United States. But they want to return to their homes after they are finished with school.

Peggy mentioned yesterday in the comments of another post that patriotism is a feeling of deep humility and gratitude for the country you live in. I liked that. But I would also add that it is also partly a feeling of love for a place and knowing it is where you want to live.

Many of the people we've met from all over the world who are living in the United States are very grateful for the opportunities they have here. Some have chosen to become citizens and only visit their native land. But most have come here with plans to return home. They want to go back. They love their homes and their families, and those homes and families are not here in the United States. Even the refugees we've known who have needed to get out of their countries want to go home.

It was interesting to talk to an Iraqi family who were in Jordan illegally 10 years ago. They hated many of the thing the Iraqi government was doing. But they loved Iraq. They were hoping for the time that they would be able to return there safely. They had no desire to become citizens of any other country.

I consider myself to be a patriotic American. I have always had an interest in American history, government, and politics. But I know that the United States isn't the best place for everyone to live. I firmly believe that the freedoms we have here would be beneficial for anyone. But there is more to life than that. Is America the best country in the world? For me it is. I am an American. For Akram, Stas, Fotima, Ghaleb, Adnan, Lada, and many others, it's a wonderful country with many opportunities, but it's not the best country in the world. Our country is where our heart is.

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