By Dan Hall
proud grateful to be an American
As I write this, I prepare to leave for Missouri to watch my youngest daughter graduate from Army basic training. We have an Army banner hanging from our mailbox.
We love flying our American flag on our home. We place miniature flags around our yard during various celebrations throughout the year.
Until an accident that left me quadriplegic three years ago, I would stand during the national anthem, singing to the irritation of many around me, often embarrassing my children as tears would fill my eyes. Fortunately, my power chair raises up about two feet. So now during the national anthem, I raise my chair as high as it will go.
But several years ago, I began to reflect on the phrase, “I’m proud to be an American.” What hit me was that I’ve done nothing to be proud of to make me an American. I was just born here. I’ve never worn a military uniform. I’ve never stopped a terrorist attack. Heck, I can’t even take credit for being smart enough to choose to be an American!
But man, am I ever GRATEFUL to be an American.
Maybe it stems from having traveled to 27 nations around the world. Maybe it’s from seeing how other people live and realizing they didn’t choose to live there either. I have a daughter working in El Salvador right now with teen orphans (many having escaped from MS-13) as well as the homeless. I’ve been to the trash heap in Manila with one million residents. I’ve seen the container in Rwanda the size of a city block containing the remains of those killed in their civil war in the ‘90s.
Wow, I am grateful to be an American.
Maybe it’s from knowing the brutality of radical Islam, the barbarity of ISIS and Boko Haram, the insanity of cutting people’s hands off for stealing or killing young girls because they marry someone from another religion.
Yep, I am SO grateful to be an American.
My travels have introduced me to many people who don’t like — and even hate — America. My wife and I drove through burning effigies of President George W. Bush and the American flag as we tried to get out of Turkey in 2003. I have been yelled at in Spain, France, the Ivory Coast, Lebanon and Jordan.
And I am still so grateful to be an American.
We spent a few years in Miami. Our church had 40 nationalities every weekend. I learned the difference between Cuban and Jamaican food, Hispanic and Latin, Asian and Oriental. I had many friends that were first or second-generation Americans. Hearing their stories magnified what an incredible country I was born in.
I’m still gonna sing along with Lee Greenwood — or whoever’s singing it on the radio — during “I’m Proud to Be an American.” There’s no argument I’m trying to promote. There’s no point I’m trying to make. Well, except this:
I’m REALLY grateful I’m an American!
Dan Hall is an executive and strategic coach to leaders and executive teams. He also works with organizations on team building, conflict resolution and communication skills. He and his wife, Hazel, have six children and four grandchildren. You can reach him at Dan@OnCourseSolutions.com.