Americns, Honestly!

“On this July 4, we would do well to renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, and its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed.

Is not nationalism–that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder–one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred?

These ways of thinking–cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on–have been useful to those in power and deadly for those out of power.” (

On this July 4 wouldn’t we have done well to remember; if we don’t stand for something we stand for nothing?

On this July 4 wouldn’t we have done well to realize that the citizens of this country have a great deal to be thankful for, and most of it was not earned by them but rather by the hard work and dedication of generations of forward thinking visionaries who hoped for peace and sacrificed greatly so that we would have a strong foundation on which to build the next levels in that progress?

On this July 4 wouldn’t we have done well if we had stopped to consider our actions, not simply the actions of others we could easily blame, but our own personal actions–and gave an honest assessment of their true worth to that progress toward peace?

I am not ashamed to be American, nor am I ashamed of my patriotism. I am proud of how I represent myself, as an American. I am proud of my husband for the same representation, and for my children who are growing to be good Americans. I believe in our constitution and the laws it represents. I believe in the freedom we all are given as a result of those laws, and am willing to abide by those laws because they are designed to give respect to the differences of all those who have come to be Americans, as long as we adhere to them with equal consideration.

It is not the flag, the country, nor any symbols of this America for which we must be ashamed–they are, after all, simply symbols; designed to represent the strength and commitment of the American people to the standards on which this country was founded.

If people are to be ashamed–if people feel guilty–if people cannot find it in themselves to proudly display that which represents America, then perhaps it is because they are not displaying that which should represent America by being honest Americans, who are willing to do more than simply say they believe in the Constitution and the laws which give us all our freedom.

So many people in this country remain focused on all that is done by those in our administration that is corrupt, ill-conceived, mishandled and supposedly not representative of their wishes and beliefs. They have spent millions of dollars, hundreds of days and nights and a great deal of effort traveling throughout the country and the world talking about the failures of our nation’s government officials; offering reassurances that the actions of the administration do not represent the American people. Be honest–without taking actions which counter what our administration is doing rather than simply addressing it with words, how is anyone going to believe those words?


Maybe we need to start proving that.

Everyone in this world knows what our administration has done wrong. The Iraqi people are quite clear on what our administration has done wrong. Our soldiers face, every day, the serious consequences of what our administration has done wrong. We know what is wrong.

When are we going to stop wasting time talking about it–and start doing the work to fix what is wrong?

Solving the problems of this country will take honest assessment, and honest commitment from Americans who stand up for the laws of our constitution, all of them, not just those which apply to their personal agenda, and not interpreting the meaning of those laws to suit their purposes.

We are all responsible for knowing the laws of this country and understanding their truth with an unbiased clarity, determined to respect the rights of all Americans whose birthright gives them a responsibility to defend our constitution with honest actions, not simply words.

I will proudly display the American flag, and I will proudly call myself an American–someone who is willing to stand with my husband, an American soldier, as he risks everything he has in real defense of the laws of our country.

My American soldier was willing to put his life on the frontlines when he believed those actions were necessary to preserve the freedoms represented by the constitution he swore to defend.

My American soldier was willing to put all he had worked for in jeopardy and served over a year in prison when he came to know the war he was ordered to fight in was immoral, unethical and a travesty of the standards and principles of the constitution he swore to defend.

Actions mean everything–it is time for real action by all honest Americans to stand and defend the laws of this country, with integrity, with commitment and with honest assessment.

My ancestors were immigrants who came to this country for the possibilities it offered. They came through Ellis Island, and followed the legal steps required by the laws of this country with pride, for their actions were right. They worked hard, beginning with nothing and earning their self-respect and the right to be proud of both their cultural heritage and their new nationality: Americans. They faced the challenges of establishing themselves in a strange, new place, maintained their standards and earned the right to expect nothing less from anyone who sought the same for themselves.

I will teach my children to be honest Americans–people who stand for the laws of this country. I will teach them pride in who they are, and how they conduct themselves. I will teach them:

Americans do not give freedom lightly because they understand how hard fought their own freedom is, having done the work to earn it for themselves.

Americans do not leave others stranded, but give them the resources they need to do the work to also earn their freedom, one step at a time, so they, too, can be proud of whom they become.

Americans do not waste thousands of days and millions of dollars publicizing how wrong conditions are–they use their time and resources wisely to change the wrong to right.

Americans do not hang their heads in shame for the country they live in, but walk proudly knowing they live their lives by the standards their laws represent–with compassion, understanding, and the strength to recognize that we keep others weak when we are willing to lower our standards to make achievement easier. Americans have the strength of self-discipline, providing others with the resources they need to help them work to achieve the high standards we seek to maintain, making them and our country stronger in the process.

Americans do the work it takes to earn the right to be proud of who they are.

How about we start thinking like Americans?

Americans being those citizens of a country called the United States of America; people of different ethnic backgrounds, from different cultures, with different perspectives and different traditions whose lives are united in a country where the experiment is to demonstrate that freedom is meant for all, and can be accomplished by a commitment of all to adhere to a few simple laws designed to see that all are treated equally.

MONICA BENDERMAN is the wife of Sgt. Kevin Benderman, a ten-year Army veteran who served a combat tour in Iraq and a year in prison for his public protest of war and the destruction it causes to civilians and to American military personnel. Please visit their website, to learn more.

Kevin and Monica may be reached at