I’m a Flag Waving Liberal

by Ilinap on July 3, 2017

The republican president is not my America. My America is open and diverse and welcoming. My America celebrates its freedom rather than squashes it. My America lifts others up, not puts them down.  My America doesn’t make me feel ashamed.

Independence Day has long been my favorite holiday. There’s no pressure and stress of Christmas or overwhelming meal planning and entertaining of Thanksgiving. Independence Day is to celebrate how lucky I am to be an American. Despite the last few months, and even years, of a political downward spiral, I find myriad reasons to celebrate my country.

I’m Indian by birth, and that heritage will always make me beam. I became a US citizen through derivative citizenship before I turned 18. I remember the years of carrying my green card tucked into my Indian passport. I’ve spent 47 years in the United States, and this is the only home I know. I recall my parents becoming naturalized citizens. It’s not something one does lightly, and the process is cumbersome. I wonder how many natural born Americans would pass the citizenship test. Each year we watch the naturalization ceremony on the grounds of the North Carolina state Capitol. It’s an awfully touching ceremony. I especially love when they annouce the countries represented among the new cadre of US citizens. I weep every single time, tears streaming from underneath my dark glasses. While it’s a privilege to become an American citizen, it’s still an emotional decision to renouce your country. I know it’s not something my mother and father did lightly, and I can only imagine the bittersweet emotions that swirled inside them when they took the proverbial leap.

I have lived and traveled all over the world. Everywhere I’ve been I have met people who are eager to visit the United States or regale me with stories of their own travel here. Foreigners have helped me see the beauty in what I often take for granted. But here’s the thing, I don’t take my citizenship for granted. It’s something I cherish, perhaps even more so than the people who were born American. I have an understanding of what my life might have been had I not immigrated to America when I was just a wee child. I acknowledge and value what this has afforded me. The current state of affairs does not diminish that.

My son asked me if Independence Day is still my favorite holiday since I’ve been less than complimentary to our current administration. I told him that my resolve is still strong and that what I value most about my country is my freedom to question my government and speak out without retribution. It is a freedom I don’t take lightly. I have the right to voice my concerns, visit my legislators, learn from a free press, and vote. I have never missed an election. Election Day just might be my second favorite holiday (yes, I do regard it a holiday).

I am an outspoken progressive woman and a patriot, a flag waving liberal, and I’m not alone. The right has hijacked patriotism and flag flying, but I am here waving the stars and stripes proudly and ecstatically. I can’t tell you how I glow when I pull up to my house and see the red, white, and blue bunting draped across the balcony and little flags tucked into each flower pot. My July 4th Spotify playlist is ready for our annual celebration. I openly cry when I hear traditional patriotic songs. Even Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.” What makes America great is its myriad hues and symphony of lilting accents. Each one of us contributes to our national narrative, each voice unique and important. And let us not take this for granted.

 

 

 

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