I was born in 1950 and have seen some of this country's best and worst moments. If you had asked me this question at nearly any prior moment in my life, there would have been no hesitation. But now, I don't know what my answer is, does anyone else?
Ok, so here's the 'yes, I'm very proud to be an American' response. A recap of some of the high points for those who weren't around, when I was in grade school, we listened breathlessly in our classrooms to the radio for the launches of TelStar, Alan Shepard, and the splashdown of John Glenn. There was the incredible energy and excitement that was JFK's inauguration, the launch of the Peace Corps, the competition with the 'Russkies'; as the member of a sports oriented family, the simple pride of listening to the national anthem at the beginning of baseball games. It was so very simple then.
Moving forward, I marched against the Army War College in 1970 and attended the anti-Nixon inaugural parade in DC. Grateful that I lived in a country where I could do that even though Kent State was just a couple of hundred miles away. Proudly cast my first ever vote against Tricky Dick and Jesse Helms and then was disgusted by Watergate but very grateful to see the system work. African Americans started to gain their rightful place and women burned their bras and we elected and then reelected our first African American president.
Even in tragedy, there was pride in country, Ronald Reagan had his moment when Challenger exploded and of course there was Sept 12 2001 when we were still all Americans and proud to say so. Although the economy left many behind, there was a social net and people trying to expand it. People fighting the polluters and the greedy. Paul Ryan might call them the 'makers' but I beg to disagree.
On the other hand there's the 'no, I'm no longer able to say I'm proud to be an American without a caveat'. Where did this start? Was it the endless overblown scandals of the Clinton presidency or the horrors of Darfur and Kosovo? What about the unrelenting war on the environment and the current assaults on those who weren't born to the right family or with the right skin color? I for one, still agree with the Dixie Chicks, George W Bush was an embarrassment to the nation and there's certainly no need for me to elaborate on the abomination that is the TeaBaggers.
So no, I can't just blindly say that I'm still proud to be an American, but writing this makes me realize that I am glad to be one. I'm going to go out and help register voters and I'm going to continue to fight with everything I've got to save the planet and maybe at some point in my life I'll once again be able to say unequivocally that I'm proud of my country.