The USA is Not The Greatest Country in the World, But She’s Mine
Contrary to popular belief, the United States of America has never been the greatest Country in the world. Really? That’s sacrilegious and anti-American, Stan. No, it is not either one of those; it is just the unvarnished truth.
Why? First, the United States of America as an entity is six years short of its 250th birthday. Throughout those short 25 decades, the good ole US of A has done many things right and many things wrong, and She takes the good with the bad. From 1783 until 1861, the Nation, built on religious freedom, persecuted the Native Americans who stood in Her way of progress. She imported Africans to work the farms and fields of the South, in slavery. Neither of these historical truths reflects well on Her. But, She did maintain Her dignity as the Country drove itself headlong into four years of hell.
The Civil War or the War of Northern Aggression, as many Southerners still refer to it, saw 600,000+ casualties at places like Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Shiloh, Vicksburg, and Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC. The war’s combatants fought for everything from states’ rights to the decision of whether the Nation would continue to allow slavery. It pitted brother against brother, and as Abraham Lincoln was starting to bind Her wounds, he died at the hands of an assassin.
From 1866 to the turn of the 20th Century, America looked inward and onward as its population slowly pushed ever westward. The Native Americans in the path were systematically exterminated or moved. Newly freed blacks were still second or third class citizens in the South. Persecution was frequent and swift for any ‘Negro’ who was out of line. Once the Country stretched from “Sea to Shining Sea” and you could get from San Francisco to New York in less than five days by train, people began to think the Country was great. She was not, but She did have great qualities.
From 1898 to 1918, Her young men fought in the Spanish American War and The Great War (World War I). She won both contests against Spain and the Kaiser’s German Army, but she still was not great. Besides the Civil War, Her most significant test was still on its way.
The Roaring Twenties saw economic growth and prosperity on a scale unimaginable just a generation before. But, there were still people on the fringes of society; hated, discriminated, and ostracised. And, these were not only the Southern black, but the Northern black, Irishman, Jew, and other minorities who immigrated into the Country after the Great War. Why were these groups ostracised and hated? The people did not like their color, religion, accent, wealth, ideology, etc. Really just because they were ‘different.’
In October 1929, the worst calamity to hit the United States started. The Great Depression of 1929 through 1941 was one of the darkest periods in Her history. President Herbert Hoover did his best to stem the tide and save the banks and the economy but failed miserably. In 1932, a new President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, assumed office and set about bailing water from the Sinking Ship that was the United States. An alphabet soup of programs ensued but really to no avail. It was not until the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor that She finally began to pull out of Her economic doldrums.
Some say Her finest hour was what She did during World War II, defeating tyranny around the world after she was battered and bloodied at Pearl Harbor. While She was defeating the tyranny of Germany and Japan, She discriminated against Her citizens at home. Jim Crow, Japanese-American Internment Centers, Detroit race riots, lynchings, and other blots were occurring on Her soil.
From the end of World War II to today, She appears to be the greatest Country in the world, but She’s not. She put a man on the moon. She helped end the Cold War and saw the re-joining of Germany in 1990 to truly end World War II. With all these accomplishments She still has warts and hates and discriminating parts that make Her who She is, a Country whose citizens love her even with her faults and her lamp pushes many around the world to die trying to reach Her open arms.
The Lady that stands in New York Harbor shines a beacon to the rest of the world. While She’s not Grand Old Lady of myth and legend, many of her people and people around the world believe that She’s dying due to internal decay and disease. Everywhere you look, Patriotism is frowned upon, Conservatism is frowned upon, Liberalism is frowned upon, and any other -ism that disagrees with your neighbor, co-worker, or person on the street is berated and belittled. Still, the truth is that She’s doing quite well with all this angst and anger because when the chips are down, these same disagreeable people will rise to the occasion and stand to fight seen and unseen enemies even with their differences of color, ideology, religion, etc.
So, while She’s not the Greatest Country in the World, She’s the only Country I want to call home. Why? Her people, warts and all.