Proud To Be An American Essay

1001 words - 4 pages

The presidential election of 2008 was the first time in my thirty five years of life that I was proud to be an American. I was raised in a religion that strictly forbid participation in our earthy government, but rather encouraged dedication to our Creator. As I became an adult, and left this religious organization, my continued refusal to participate became a deeply personal choice and preference. As a bi-racial American, how was I to respect a government that for so many years not only allowed but encouraged the mistreatment of minority groups? How could I pledge allegiance to a flag that to me represented brutality and inequality that I had come to despise? I never considered myself Anti-American, but preferred to view it as me being passive or possibly uncommitted. I have never in my life said the Pledge of Allegiance. I have never sung the National Anthem of the United States. I have never raised the American Flag on a flagpole. I have never considered joining the armed forces to defend my country. Having the opportunity to vote for a bi-racial president forced me to reevaluate my beliefs and values. In that one day, given that one opportunity, I was changed.
As a child I never questioned the religious beliefs that forced me to be the outcast when all the children said the Pledge of Allegiance every morning at school. As an adult, those religious beliefs became less important, but the stories of racism and struggle that my family had shared with me throughout the years were still seared in my heart. America had failed my family, generation after generation, and in doing that America had failed me. It always upset me when people would say, “slavery and racism was so long ago, you shouldn’t hold grudges, just forget about it.” For me, it was it was not so long ago and racism was all too familiar to me. Four generations ago, my great -great- grandmother was born a slave. Three generations ago, my great grandmother, Miss Stella, was never allowed to attend school, and worked with her family as underpaid share-croppers. As an adult she participated in the civil rights movement. One of my fondest memories was of digging through Miss Stella’s keepsake items, and finding a protest sign with a picture of Martin Luther King on it. She spent the rest of the afternoon telling me about how she had marched with Reverend King. Miss Stella talked about the water hoses and how the police beat her within an inch of her life. Two generations ago, as my grandfather watched his best friend be killed for looking at a “white woman”. When he was ill and dying, I would sit by his bed and listen to the stories of all of the things that he wished he had never seen. One...

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