10/17/09 — American spirit: What makes Americans Americans? Have we really forgotten?

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American spirit: What makes Americans Americans? Have we really forgotten?

It has not been an easy year. More people have lost jobs, there is still partisan bickering and there are thousands of our servicemen and women still fighting in the Middle East.

Add to that a dropping dollar value and even more shaky retirement accounts and credit markets, and it is no wonder that many Americans are wondering exactly what has gone wrong with their country.

In the end, what we are dealing with is politics, pure and simple -- the ebb and flow of the democracy American citizens claim they cherish.

Control has shifted and there is a new sheriff in charge -- and what many of us forget, especially when he or those who work for him make decisions that we do not agree with -- is that we are his boss. Americans decide on their leaders -- not Europe, not Hollywood and certainly not political parties.

So, if there is something we don't like, all we have to do is vote to change it.

But is there something to mourn? Has this country been changing fundamentally? Are there more people nowadays who just don't remember the freedoms, the spirit, the real reason that Americans are Americans?

Sometimes, to remember who you are, you have to look back to the journey you have already completed.

America has always been a place for dreams. Come here with a desire to make your life better and the willingness to work hard and you can become somebody special.

We used to call it American spirit.

In recent years, some of our leaders have forgotten that drive that built this country. They punish industry and reward sloth. They give away privileges that many others have worked so hard to earn. They make excuses for bad behavior while ignoring the rights of those who have followed the rules. And worst of all, they have allowed other nations to call into question the motivation and integrity of generations of Americans who have fought for the people of the world who could not fight for themselves -- and those who have made sure the world heard this nation's response to terrorism.

So how do we move back the other way -- back to the days when America stood for something?

The answer lies in each of us. We have to remember the values that make us proud to be Americans and fight to make sure they remain priorities for the leaders we elect.

America is not dead -- and neither are the standards and principles so many have fought to protect.

And the only way they will disappear is if we forget to cherish them, and to fight for them.

Published in Editorials on October 17, 2009 11:15 PM