I am proud to be an American. Not everybody can say that. I am proud to be free. Not everybody can say that, either. Some people are born feeling patriotic. For me, it took a trip to our nation's capitol to figure it out.
My trip to Washington, D.C. started the minute I stepped off the plane. There was a People to People leader, dressed in her blue leaders polo, waiting for me at the end of the walkway. As we got into the van to head to the Hyatt, I looked behind me and saw the faint outline of a city. I didn't know it then, but that city would change the way I thought about America forever.
The next morning, we got up and went straight to the Air Force Memorial. It was cool, but it didn't really affect me. For the rest of that day, we were so busy trying to see all of the memorials, that I didn't really have time to think. On the second day, we got up very early and drove to Philadelphia. That was when the history started to come into play. We saw Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the Old Supreme Court Building. When we were in Independence Hall, I began to realize what the early Americans had to do to gain our freedom. And then, thinking back to the memorials we had seen the day before, what the later Americans had to do to keep it. Over the course of a week we saw the Capitol Building, the White House, Mount Vernon, and countless other historical sites.
The more I saw, the more I thought. The more I thought, the more I was starting to understand America. When I saw the white stone and the iron dome on the Capitol, and how beautiful it was, I realized that we are really lucky to be able to have a government like we do. Sure we have problems, but name a place that doesn't. We have it better than a lot of countries in and around the Middle East, Africa, and parts of Asia. We have a stable government, and the freedom to express ourselves however we like (within reason). We may not be perfect, but we are close enough. We are free.
So even with its faults, I am proud to be part of such a great nation — America.
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