Americans cheer different sports teams, argue heatedly about different political views, and speak with slightly different accents, but we are all proud Americans. This country regularly changes leadership peacefully without firing guns and spilling the blood of fellow citizens. Only once in our history have states fought on a battlefield against each other, and we learned a valuable lesson from that bloodshed.
So what makes us all American? I believe that faith in our Constitutional Democracy generates a common pride and sense of security in this great country. We cross state borders without passports, openly trade with each other without tariffs, and exercise our right to vote on an equal basis.
When Corey and I took early retirement, we bought an RV and set out to explore this country state-by-state. We were struck by how much we felt at home in every state where we camped, enjoyed exploring the beautiful places that make America special, and felt privileged to learn more about our common American history.
My daughter lives in Williamsburg, Virginia and hoped to join the Daughters of the American Revolution. She needed photographic proof about her ancestors and gave us a list of cemeteries to visit. We took photos of ancestor headstones for her application and learned about our families. We had no idea how many of our ancestors fought in the American Revolution and in the Civil War.
As we traveled the path our ancestors took more than two hundred years apart, we felt so close to them. It was humbling to see small American flags that marked the graves of our brave ancestors. My husband learned about the path his family took from the East Coast to the Midwest, and I felt surprised to discover my own family crossed paths with his along the way. Tears filled our eyes as we read the dates on headstones of ten family members who died during an epidemic.
I learned that two of my female ancestors were part of the Salem Witch trials, one an accused and one an accuser. What surprised me more was that grandchildren of both women forgot the pain and anguish of those terrible trials and got married. Enemies became a family in the same way the country healed after the Civil War.
It is important that every citizen protects our liberty by studying the candidates (both local and national) and exercising the right to vote. Our ancestors spilled their blood to give us this privilege, so we must protect it faithfully in their memory.