HAMBURG — I used to have a lot of faith and pride in my country. I was a die-hard American who knew every verse of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and who was proud to put my hand over my heart and salute the flag.
During the past few years, however, I have felt my patriotism wane, as I learned more and more about the parts of our country that may not be so great. Things like ever-increasing debt ceilings, corporate buyouts and corrupt politicians looking out for No. 1.
I put away the red, white and blue bunting and loudly proclaimed how nice it looked, on the other side of the pond, where universal health care and monarchy beckoned.
I still love my country. But the rose-colored glasses of my youth have been torn off by the harsh hand of reality. Education has informed me that my America is not as glossy as I would like it to be, and that beneath the star-spangled cover lie very ugly realities.
But when I settled back in front of the TV the other day, and watched the first ugly Christmas sweater-clad American athlete step out onto the floor at Sochi, I felt the familiar stir of pride in my country.
World-wide events such as these not only put bias on the sidelines for a time and encourage people from all over the world to join together in friendly competition, it once again allows the people back home to remember how much their country means to them and to take pride in the representatives who are putting their all on the slopes and chilly rinks.
I am proud to be able to say, along with the men and women working so hard at Sochi, that I am an American. I am glad that I was born in the United States of America and I support my country, no matter its flaws.
Because we really are free; Americans can do and be whatever they want. This is the home of the brave, and many of those valiant souls have joined together with athletes from all over the world to pursue some very special and shiny medals.
I love the winter Olympics; I know this is not a sentiment shared by many who prefer the blazing sun of summer, but my girly side comes out when the ice skaters float out in their glittery glamor and I hold my breath for those flying above the crowd on snowboards and skis.
I also enjoy the fact that the winter Olympics offer us hockey. I’m not a sports person, most of the time, but I love me some hockey, and I have a great time watching Team USA – sporting our very own Ryan Miller – skating circles around the competition.
I have been blessed to be able to say that I am an American, and now is a good time to remind myself about how fortunate we all are, to have been born in this great country.
Congratulations to all of the American athletes who have worked so hard to get to where they are today. I am proud of Team USA and wish every team member the very best.