For much of the 1970s, when a lot of national bitterness lingered on about the Vietnam War and it seemed like American patriotism was at a low (equaled only in recent years), I was living in Rabat, Morocco, next door to the American Ambassador’s residence, and my father worked at the American Embassy a few blocks away, literally a little piece of our homeland, where Old Glory flew overhead and the Marines stood on guard, and everything seemed homelike and familiar.

US Flag

As beautiful as that North African country was, with its Mediterranean climate, Roman ruins, and intricately tiled mosques, its delicious fruit, sandy beaches and fascinating history, I remember being amazed at how unappreciative my compatriots were of our own country. Or so it seemed to me. When I returned for visits, I was amazed at stores that were clean, with endless aisles of products to choose from, how big everything was, and especially the fact that everyone spoke English with an American accent.

Times have changed. So has America in some ways, for better or worse. People may debate the reasons and meaning of those changes, but whatever we may wish were different, we are still fortunate enough to have the oldest functioning democratic republic in the world, the highest rate of charitable giving in the world, the biggest economy, the most global influence, and the strongest military–whose members sacrifice all to protect Americans and others, often for no reason except that it is the right thing to do.

On the Fourth of July, I believe it is appropriate to spend some time appreciating the good about the United States, the country that did away with the concept of inherited Monarchy (sorry, England!), and brought the ideal of democracy to the modern world.

Today I am proud to be American, and at the same time I wish the best to all our wonderful friends in other countries around the world.

Happy Independence Day!