GUIZERIX: I’m still proud to be an American, and always will be

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, July 6, 2022

As we gathered on Monday for the city of Vicksburg’s Fourth of July celebration to begin, I took a moment to look around and absorb the scene around me.

After scrolling social media in the various lulls earlier in the day, as one does, I felt a little disenchanted with the state of things. From those disappointed in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, to those (rightfully) complaining about rampant food and supply shortages, to those openly praising the lone gas station they spotted on their travels with fuel priced lower than $4, it seemed what many people were lacking was a sense of patriotism.

I actually spotted a friend on Facebook who said, “I despise nationalism,” on America’s birthday of all days. And if I’m being truthful, with the state of things around me, I sometimes find it difficult to grapple with the direction in which our country is headed.

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But on Monday night, my perspective changed a little bit.

I stood next to a man who had taken more than a few bullets for this country while fireworks exploded overhead.

I’ve seen firsthand the toll serving one’s country has on a person even if they never saw combat, thanks to conversations with my own husband and our friends who were student veterans at Ole Miss. I know men and women who were pieced together like puzzles after a mishap with an explosive device or a bad run-in with the enemy and continue their existence in continuous pain — and they’d do it all again for their love of country.

As the spouse of a veteran and someone who is lucky enough to call veterans of several military branches friends, all I could think was, if brave men and women are still willing to sacrifice for this country, I still need to be proud of it, too.

So often, we think of veterans as the old man who stands next to the flag pole on Memorial Day, or the highly decorated retired colonel leading an invocation at a Veteran’s Day service. Their stories and contributions are no doubt important, but it’s also important to shift our perspective to include those outside that mental image.

Today’s veteran is the guy making your coffee at a local café. It’s the woman who’s substitute teaching in your child’s second-grade classroom. It’s the usher at your church who walks with a limp, or the formerly boisterous class clown from high school who came home with hollow eyes.

Their stories — and their sacrifices — are just as much a part of the fabric of America as those of the Greatest Generation and before. We need to make sure they know they’re appreciated.

Over the course of history, the 240-year mark has proven to be the decade that makes or breaks a nation. The United States is 246 years old, and it’s very clear that we’re in a state of social and economic turmoil. We’re morally bankrupt as a whole.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about the future of our nation, but one truth still remains: America is still great.

That greatness has nothing to do with the number of fireworks you light, the flags you wave or the critical Facebook statuses you write.

It has everything to do with the people who put their lives and physical and mental well-being on the line every day to preserve our freedoms. And for that, I’ll always be proud.