I love my country. I have always felt proud and blessed to be an American.
Oh, sure, all my friends know I gripe about the government, the Supreme Court, taxes, wasteful wars, this country's ridiculous stance on gay rights, and what I see to be the occasional deterioration of our freedoms--but that is because I love our country.
I love what it stands for. The ideal: We get to elect our representatives in public office. We have freedom of speech. Our right to pursue individual happiness is protected (as long as our pursuits don't infringe on the freedoms of another). We're granted freedom of religion so that no one particular religion is imposed upon us. And more. We're also the "good guys": We don't abide it when others pick on a little guy who can't defend himself from the big bully of oppression.
On the Statue of Liberty, Emma Lazarus' poem "The New Colossus" reads, in part:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
We are a great country because we embrace those who suffer, those who haven't been allowed the same freedoms granted to ourselves.
I only gripe and complain when I see us NOT holding true to these values or NOT extending them to everyone, regardless of race, class, creed, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, or any other label we may slap on someone to deny them their equal right to pursue happiness.
Happy July 4th, America. May we never forget what we stand for: a nation conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal.
Let us never wish to "take our country back": rather, let us wish to take our country forward.
ps: y'all be careful with those pyrotechnics!