The phrase “Make America Great Again” has flooded our recent politics as the campaign slogan of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. As a proud American, this slogan leaves me unsettled. This is not to say that change does not need to be made in our country — no country will ever reach a point at which it cannot improve — but I find the implication that our country is not great alarming when coming from a presidential candidate.
The phrase cheapens our country’s past progress and divides its citizens, thus undermining core American values.
Citizens of the United States of America take pride in living in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Our country was the first to be founded on the radical notion that all men are created equal and have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. For the past 240 years, we have upheld this founding principle and continue to fight to make the execution of our values more perfect and inclusive. Our land promises the fulfillment of a dream: the dream. This is our American legacy.
One of my earliest memories, like many in my generation, is of a sunny day in the middle of September that became clouded by ash. It began with watching a man fall thousands of feet, his whole body on fire. It began with watching as the two tallest buildings of the New York City skyline, familiar to even my young eyes, crumbled in flames of hatred.
That day, 2,996 and another 6,000 were injured. Regardless of our country’s state of shock after that morning of unspeakable horror, we united in the face of tragedy. We solemnly placed our flag amid the chaos, a sign to the world that no matter what evil was thrown our way, our spirit would remain undefeated.
That day was 9/11, a day America will never forget.
On Jul. 7, 2016, we again unified in the face of tragedy, this time in my hometown, Dallas, Texas.
After weeks of cringing at the injustices that were being done to my fellow Americans because of their skin color, I saw my own city’s innocent officers shot by a radical. This murderer was someone who had seen the injustices we had seen, but had turned that shared disgust and sorrow into a destructive hatred.
This hatred brutally murdered five of Dallas’ greatest men, who risked their lives every day for that very man whose animosity had taken their lives: Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael J. Smith, Brent Thompson, and Patrick Zamarripa. Once again in the face of tragedy, we rise up to show the world who we are as a nation, just as we did in Orlando, when our nation put aside our disagreements on marriage equality and Americans donated their own blood to sustain the lives of their fellow citizens.
We are America. We don’t succumb to fear; we are free. We don’t tolerate terrorism; we are brave. It’s who we are. We are the country that founded itself on the notion that all men are created equal. We are the country that declares that all have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This is American greatness. This is our American legacy.
Proponents of Trump’s campaign slogan, just like ISIS and other radical terrorist groups, don’t comprehend this love of country that we and our fellow citizens have demonstrated time and time again and that makes us great
Now we must ask ourselves as a nation, if this is not greatness, to what kind of greatness are we aspiring?