America has been called a “melting pot” and it’s one of the things that make the USA a truly great nation. Every American reflects an individual brand of patriotism based on his or her own personal experience as a citizen of this great country.
My sense of patriotism comes from childhood memories of watching the evening news with my family, Fourth of July fireworks exploding in the skies above my Miami neighborhood and, of course, Neil Armstrong taking his first steps on the moon.
As a young adult, I was fortunate to be mentored by role models who encouraged me to think independently and to question authority. This is something that has stayed with me to this day.
With the celebration of our country’s birthday this week, we remember that the United States of America was born out of dissent and founded upon the revolutionary ideal of democracy. Inspired by its diverse citizens and ever-changing cultural landscape, the founders established a process for the peaceful transition of power from one leader to the next.
Our right to vote was not gifted — it was fought for and earned through the struggles of the many brave men and women who came before us. And throughout the trials, triumphs, and revisions our governments have experienced, this one system has remained constant.
This August marks the 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resignation from the presidency. Six years ago, the American people elected our first African-American president. In two years, Hillary Clinton may stand as the Democratic nominee to be the first woman president.
We have come so far, but we still have a long way to go. Our country’s strength is a direct result of our differences. Those differences create a dialogue and make us examine what’s important.
It is our right and our duty as American citizens to voice our opinions about the issues that matter to us. What do we want our America to look like tomorrow? 25 years from now? 100 years from now? If you want to play a role in making change happen, go directly to the source. Vote for the candidates and issues you believe in.
As election season in Florida draws closer, if you have not registered to vote, I urge you to take advantage of your right as an American. Educate yourself about the issues and candidates on the ballot this November. Exercise your right to play your part in making our state and our country a better place for our loved ones and future generations.
The Fourth of July is partly about the fireworks, the pool parties and the grilled hamburgers. Even more, it’s about remembering the meaning beyond those symbols of the American way of life.