News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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July 4, 2013

Why are you proud to be an American?

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Tribune-Star recently asked readers to tell us why they were “Proud to be an American.” Here are their responses, with minimal editing:

 

Why am I proud to be an American? I looked up the word “proud” and it referred me to “pride.” There are some very negative words connected to those two words.

I need to transpose the subject of this letter to “why I take pride in America.” America is a country with many freedoms that people in other countries can only wish for and dream about. I don’t need to list all the freedoms we have. If you live here you already know what they are. If you don’t live in America, there aren’t sufficient words to explain the many freedoms that we celebrate. In America even the poorest are rich compared to so many other countries.  

But how can I be “proud to be an American” when my sole contribution was just to be born here? I can be proud of what my forefathers, the founders, fought for and established in this wonderful United States of America. Today’s generation has no idea what struggles went on in order to ensure them today’s freedom and luxuries. I can be happy that America has always had warriors ready to give their lives for this land of the free and home of the brave.

But I can’t take any credit for that either. Nor can I take any credit for our freedom of religion. But I am very thankful that I was raised by Christian parents who taught me to appreciate the freedoms in America and especially the freedom to worship the God of our choice. In America, people also have the freedom to ignore all religion. There are exceptions to every blessing, but most of the time things are going okay for the majority in America.

We grieve over the country’s natural disasters, crime, war and poverty, but bad things happen worldwide. America can be proud of its established systems for the welfare of its citizens, such as law enforcement, fire departments, health services, education, parks and recreation facilities, transportation services, roads and highways, and … the list goes on and on.

For me, the greatest blessing is the freedom to attend a church and worship openly without fear of being killed or arrested. My mother’s recorded family history began in 1738 when five young Crist brothers boarded a ship to the “new land” across the Atlantic Ocean. It took six grueling, miserable months to arrive on the shores of the new land. They anticipated it as the land of the free. The brothers kept detailed journals of their trip and their experiences. Their adventures eventually led them to settling in the rough land later to be named Indiana. Their journals recorded many hair-raising events and tragedies. I am proud of all our forefathers for their bravery and courage to build America into a great country.

Reviewing all of this, I truly can say “I’m proud to be an American.” This is the best, and the good far outweighs the bad. God bless America.

— Pat Creasey, Terre Haute

• • •

My pride in being an American was generated in another era. We learned the Pledge of Allegiance, and The National Anthem, in school. We also were taught the “Battle Hymn” and “God Bless America.” These were taught by teachers who cared, and reinforced at home by parents who thought this was important. I remember the day that World War II ended. I knew that my dad had done a good job helping to secure victory for the Allies. My uncle fought in almost every big battle in Italy and Sicily. He was not braggadocious about his Purple Heart and clusters. It was a good man just doing his job.

There is a reason that this was called the Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw. It was an excellent observation. I have had the joy of singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” for many occasions while singing with the Banks of the Wabash Chorus. Getting a thank you for singing it the way it is supposed to be sung gives me goose pimples. Getting a hug from a Blue Angel for our presentation was a highlight.

How could I not be a patriot? It is planted in the marrow of my bones.

— Ronald L. Farlin, now of Bullhead City, AZ

• • •

President Lincoln said it best in the Gettysburg Address: “That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

God Bless America, the land of the free.

— Tim and Marsha Long, Carbon

• • •

To explain why I am proud to be an American, I have to tell the story of my life. I was born in East Bengal of British India 85 years ago, and my place of birth became a part of East Pakistan in 1947 when the British left. In 1971 it became Muslim Bangladesh. I survived the famine of 1943 when millions from Bengal died … and we were driven to India from our ancestral home.

In the India of today 140 million live on the streets and more than 600 million live on $1 per day, and the largest number of the poor of the world are in India. Most of them are low-caste untouchable Hindus, who are treated by the upper-caste Hindus with utmost indignity.

Still, I could get my medical degree from Calcutta in 1953. I found a job in a government-run railway hospital with a salary of 200 rupees per month, which was  less than that of a junior nurse. And that money was barely enough to buy the food for the family. …

There was no other way to earn a living; I had to work there for six years. Luckily at that time, the USA opened its doors to train doctors from developing countries. I passed the required test and got a residency in Massachusetts to start from July of 1961. Unlike the officials of the Indian government, the people of the U.S. consulate were kind and helping and they gave me a visa and advised me to write to an organization of New York that was helping foreign students.

So in the last week of June of 1961, I landed in a New York airport, and after the paper formalities I came out into the lounge. A gentleman came and asked me if I was “Doctor Sarkar from India.” I said yes, and he showed me the letter I wrote to them. I told him that I would go to Pittsfield in Massachusetts by bus next day as I had a Greyhound bus ticket. He carried my bag and drove me to Manhattan and put me in the YMCA hostel where I had to pay only $5 for the room. He called the bus station and told me that my bus would leave at 9 a.m. next day, and he showed me how to go to the bus station. I was overwhelmed by his kind help and could not thank him enough. I realized that I came to the best country in the world, and the Americans were very kind and helpful. The work in the modern hospital was challenging but enjoyable, and the doctors were eager to train us.

Then after six months I could bring my wife, Dr. Dipa Sarkar, and our baby daughter, Rumu, and we two finished our training and started in 1969 to work at Union Hospital in Terre Haute. We got out of poverty and enjoyed dignity as a human being for the first time, and later got U.S. citizenship. We got love and kindness from our Jewish and Christian friends. After our early retirement in 1990, we traveled to most countries of the world and could know the other members of our human family. I know the history of my adopted motherland, the land of Washington and Lincoln and the champion of the suffering humanity, and naturally I am very proud to be an American.

— Anil K. Sarkar, M.D., Terre Haute

• • •

Here are a few reasons of why I like Being an American:

• One Run For Boston

• Big Brother Big Sister

• The Year of the River Watermark Landing

• Haircuts-for-Hugs in Hartford, Conn.

• We The People

— Marla Norris, Terre Haute

• • •

I am very proud to be an American. Our country isn’t perfect, but nothing is on this earth. We have many “freedoms” that other countries only dream of having. Some of these freedoms are that we can worship God, freedom of speech and freedom of the press. We are also able to travel wherever we want or need to go.

I’m proud that we are able to fly the American flag. I’m very patriotic and like to show my “true colors” — red, white and blue. I know that our military is taking good care of us. The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard not only take care of us, but many other countries.

Our country isn’t perfect, but nothing is on this earth. Yes, I’m proud to be an American. God bless America.

— Connie Conway, Terre Haute

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