Our country turns 239 on Saturday – which is REALLY young by many countries’ standards. In honor of this anniversary, it feels appropriate to reflect on the gifts we have as Americans. I feel so fortunate to have been born in this, the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”

There are many things in our country that can, and should, get better. At the top of my list is the growing polarity that keeps us from putting our brightest minds together to engage in the cooperative collaboration and problem solving needed to keep our country healthy and vibrant.

But our nation’s birthday isn’t about focusing on what’s not working. Instead, it’s a celebration of our Independence as a nation and there are innumerable blessings for which I am grateful, including:

  • The freedom bestowed upon us – and protected for us – by our (highly imperfect) democratic government and legislative system that allows us to practice the religion of our choice, love and marry whomever we wish, pursue the vocation of our choice, change our life’s “station” through innovation, hard-work and effort, say what we feel needs to be said and more
  • The safety we enjoy in our daily lives and in our travel around the country and globe, delivered to us by the courageous acts of our nation’s service men and women, police and fire personnel and our gifted medical professionals
  • The technology advances that give us lightning speed access to information, inexpensive telephone, video, text and social media communications and the ability to connect with almost anyone, anytime, anywhere. These same advances have us living longer and enjoying a better quality of life, too
  • An almost endless number of beautiful landscapes and a bounty of natural riches that provide us delicious food and water and valuable natural resources and recreation
  • An education system filled with committed teachers and administrators working to bring our nation to new heights

Mostly, I take these things for granted, but they are not present in other parts of the world to the degree that they are in the U.S. Thank God I am an American!

As we celebrate our nation’s birth this weekend, I pray that we each resolve to spend more time reflecting in gratitude for our many blessings. And I pray that this next year, we will strive to be better neighbors, bigger givers, more conscientious protectors of our nation’s precious resources, and better cross-party collaborators.

What are your wishes for our nation this Independence Day? Please share your ideas with us – we’re interested!