This post was originally published on LDS Blogs in 2008. Minor changes have been made.
Today, as my husband and I were driving home from the gym, I heard Rush Limbaugh ask his listeners to think of the things about America that made us proud. I’ve had time to contemplate on that throughout the afternoon.
My father, Fritz, was born in Amsterdam and was four years old when Hitler’s armies filled the skies and streets of Holland. He remembers, at four years of age, awakening to the sounds of the bombers overhead and soldiers goose-stepping through the cobblestone streets. There began year after year of unmitigated hell in my father’s life.
He vividly recalled the lines for food, hours upon hours of waiting to receive one egg for the month to feed their little family. He recalled the need for a permit from the Nazis to travel from one block to the next.
His nightmares are filled with the Nazis piling out of their trucks lining up all the men and boys in the neighborhood and gunning them down. After meting out unspeakable horror upon the Dutch, the Nazis would pile back into their trucks and speed away.
And yet another memory took him back to his mother fighting hand-to-hand combat with her Dutch neighbors to get to their top floor apartment.
All these things were spoken of many times in the last years of my father’s life. My parents instilled in me a deep and abiding love of America as well as the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of being a citizen of this country.
America is constantly entrenched in and divided by politics. In Proverbs 29:2 we read:
When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.
My parents taught me wisdom, gave me knowledge and encouraged me to seek out more. They instilled courage deep within my soul and molded me into the woman I have become today. It is with these qualities I make an informed (and hopefully wise) decision when elections come and I exercise my civic duty and privilege of voting.
There are many negative comments continuously coming forth about America, which brings me back to the beginning—what is it about this country of which I am so proud.
Number One: I deeply enjoy the political process established by the Founding Fathers of America that allows one voice to be heard and counted.
Number Two: I enjoy the privilege of being able to express my opinions freely without fear of retribution or death from my government.
Number Three: I enjoy the right to pursue my dreams and work at any job I desire.
Number Four: I love the peaceful transfer of power every four years, a powerful example to the world.
Number Six: I adore the fact that no one, let alone my government, tells me how many children I may have.
Number Seven: I love that I can travel anywhere within the United States without the need to report to each city and state my whereabouts.
Number Eight: I love that we prosper as a nation and share with the world our bounty, strength and courage . . . although it is not as appreciated as I believe it should be.
Number Eight: I love that we value life, no matter what race, creed or culture.
We may not be a nation of perfect people, but we espouse these beliefs and I hold them dear.
On July 4th of 1776, the 13 colonies of America gathered together and these words were written:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. (The Declaration of Independence)
This is the core of what America is about. And it was in this climate in 1805 when the prophet of the restoration, Joseph Smith, Jr., was born into the world. As the religious furor grew great, Joseph sought after and found the truth when God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him.
It was only in a free nation that the Gospel of Jesus Christ could be restored. And it was in this free country where man retained the right to worship according to the dictates of his conscience that this gospel took root and flourished spreading across the world to over 16,000,000 members.
My father knew the difference between a complete lack of freedom and the freedoms we enjoy in America. He was the fiercest patriot this nation has ever seen. He has now shuffled off this mortal coil and passed the torch of freedom and righteousness to his children. I have picked up that torch and am politically involved, religiously devoted to my God and my family, and loyal to my country. I avail myself constantly of the freedoms of this nation as I fight to protect them.
I am my father’s daughter and could not be more proud of that fact. So yes, Rush, I love my country, with all her growing pains, weaknesses and imperfections. Because this is still the land where the gospel was able to grow, dreams were fought for and achieved, and a country established on the basic principles and rights given by God to every human being on the earth. It is in America that we continue to fight for those rights.
As have the men and women who sacrificed their all to bring us this nation, I have dedicated my life to God and my country—the legacy given to me by my parents.