The most patriotic person I have ever met is a woman who comes from Iran.
I recently met an Iranian woman who was held prisoner, tortured mercilessly and brutally by her captors for five years in her home country, but now lives in the United States teaching classes at a community college. She holds community study groups about the Quran and Islam, is kind, generous, and gracious to everyone she meets, and speaks so highly of the United States that it makes me reexamine my own feelings of patriotism.
This woman, I will call her Mary, is a delightful teacher, writer, painter, and survivor. When she talks about her new home in this country, she speaks with delight, gratitude and appreciation. She relishes her right to freedom of speech, religion, and voting. These are things most Americans were born into and take for granted. She values the opportunities and rights she has here, for which she was tortured and imprisoned for in her country of birth.
She proudly upholds her belief in Islam and in the Quran as guidelines for living a righteous life. She does so even though many Americans speak from a place of ignorance and hatre about Iranians or anyone of Middle Eastern descent. She is grateful for having the opportunity to fulfill her pursuit of happiness, practice her beliefs in serving God, and honoring a country, even as it threatens war to her people and family still unable to leave their homeland.
She is a shining example of what it is to be a truly patriotic American with grace, gratitude, and peace.
We as Americans can never truly understand what it is like to be denied basic human rights and have our beliefs and ideas suppressed because they are not in conjunction with the governing authorities. We are fortunate that we may never fully appreciate what truly freedom is and how truly blessed we are to live in this country. We can learn from people like Mary who have overcome these hardships and embrace their freedom, treating all people as people, as equals.