John M. Becker

What Makes You Feel Patriotic? [Open Thread]

Filed By John M. Becker | July 04, 2014 6:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Barack Obama, DOMA, Independence Day, July 4th, Michelle Obama, open thread, patriotism, pride

Happy Independence Day! We're taking the holiday off here at Bilerico, but don't worry! We've left you an open thread.

So talk amongst yourselves; I'll give you a topic: national pride and patriotism.

On holidays like this, I think about the concept of patriotism, and I often think about that quote from Michelle Obama that got her into trouble on the campaign trail in 2008: "For the first time in my adult lifetime, I'm really proud of my country..."

Spokesman Bill Burton later explained:

"Of course Michelle is proud of her country, which is why she and Barack talk constantly about how their story wouldn't be possible in any other nation on Earth. What she meant is that she's really proud at this moment because for the first time in a long time, thousands of Americans who've never participated in politics before are coming out in record numbers to build a grassroots movement for change."

The future First Lady took a lot of heat from the right-wing outrage machine over the remark, but as the wife of the man who would go on to become the first African-American President of the United States, she certainly had a point.

ap-charles-dharapak.jpgWhen I was growing up, the more I came into my own as a young gay man, the tougher a time I had doing things like reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. The words "liberty and justice for all" choked in my throat, since I knew that they didn't fully apply to me.

I'm also a vocal musician, so I was often asked to sing the "Star-Spangled Banner," and I always cringed inside as I sang "o'er the land of the free" for that same reason -- as a second-class citizen, I felt like a bit of a hypocrite singing about freedoms that I and so many others didn't enjoy.

Last year, when the Supreme Court struck down DOMA and upheld a lower court ruling invalidating California's Proposition 8, I had a Michelle Obama moment of my own. For the first time -- despite the mountain of work that remains to be done on LGBT civil rights -- I felt like my country saw me, recognized Michael and me as a married couple, and affirmed my human dignity as a gay person.

For the first time in my adult life, I really felt proud of my country.

So on this day when many Americans celebrate their independence and national pride, I ask you: have you ever had a Michelle Obama moment? What makes you proud of your country?

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