American flag hung for Independence DayWhat makes America great? On this, the 235th birthday of the nation’s founding Declaration of Independence, it seems like a question we need to answer. At the heart of it, the United States was founded on a unique set of ideals and principles, which may not always be evident in current government policy but have always inspired its supporters and nurtured progress.

America is a great country for many reasons, big and small. I asked our Facebook fans to list the things they love about the USA and received some heartfelt responses, some of which are included below in my list of Top 12 things to love about America.

John Adams painting“Freedom!” is the thing Douglas Archibald and Shelle Kanai Davis love most.

1) The Founding Fathers – The first men (and women) in the modern world to wrestle with the meaning of freedom and natural-born rights, and how these should be the foundation of any government. Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, Adams and Madison were outstanding for both their convictions and courage — and their compromise, which was necessary to get anything of importance accomplished and should be relearned by Congress members today.

2) The First Amendment to the US Constitution – Freedom of speech — and religion — is guaranteed in the US under amendment I of the United States Constitution, as part of the Bill of Rights. Anastasia Wayne named these rights as two things she loved most.

Elvis Presley“The music…” – Deborah Ivanoff

2) American Music – Rock and Roll greats always attribute their success to the soulful Blues music that grew up the south and migrated to Chicago. Jazz also was an American original, flourishing in New Orleans and Harlem.

3) Washington, DC – “There is no other place that so concentrates all of America’s best and worst ideas, its greatest failures and most victorious successes,” than our nation’s capitol, wrote Ami Blue. Washington Monument with cherry blossoms-geriThe world class Smithsonian museums are open to all free of charge, but more than that, “Exploring the National Mall, bathed as it is in unbridled Americana, bespeaks the historic importance of this place; but more importantly, when you’re actually there, looking at the amazing relics of our survival as a nation, you’re surrounded by people from all nations, speaking all tongues — yet you can’t help but feel like family.”

“All that shoreline!” – Barbara Henderson

Grand Canyon by Luca Galuzzi, www,galuzzi.it4) Its Natural Beauty – Tourists and Americans alike know the awesome splendor of  America, where you can drive from the seashore to the Rocky Mountains to the desert in a matter of hours. Along with the Great Lakes, the Appalachian range and the Mississippi River, these natural wonders create an unforgettable tapestry of recreation and industry.

5) Business Innovation like Apple, Inc – Co-founded by college drop-out Steve Jobs, and Steve Wozniak 35 years ago, Apple this year became the most valuable technology company in the world and was named by Fortune magazine as the most admired one on the planet. The drive and imagination it took to create one of the world’s first personal computers, and to transform the music industry with its iPod and iTunes — and mobile phones, with the beloved iPhone — exemplifies the American spirit of innovation. Also noteworthy is the company’s perseverance in lean times, not giving up when market share and stock prices plummeted in the early 1990’s.

devils tower7) The National Parks – Amber Evans, Anita Riley and others named the National Park Service as one of our greatest treasures. Yellowstone National Park, was the first one established, in 1872. The National Park Service, since its inception in 1916, has managed all the parks, now totaling 58 — each inspiring with a different vista, and offering new learning opportunities, from canyons — at the Grand Canyon — to volcanoes, to seashores, to hot springs, to sand dunes, to wetlands, like the great Florida Everglades.

“I love birthright citizenship,” wrote Candace Moore Hill. “Born in America, you are an American. This is NOT true most places around the world.

8) Citizenship – One of the things that is unique about America is how you can become an American just because you believe in its ideals. By signifying your assent, you are ‘in’. Citizenship ceremonies all over the nation show the multi-colored hue of the nation.

9) Great Cities – A great country has great cities, of course, and the US is no exception. From San Francisco, the golden gateway of the Pacific, to the Big Apple on the Atlantic, with Chicago nestled on the Great Lakes, Las Vegas in the desert, and Austin, Texas bringing up the south.

10) Election Day – Parents bring children to the polls to witness the inspiring spectacle of Americans choosing their leaders. “I love that we have peaceful transitions of government at every level,” commented Susan Landreth. “Regardless of affiliation, we all get to go the polls and — without fear — cast our ballots.”

Sydney Poitier11) American Entertainment – Hollywood has produced some ‘national treasures’, like Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Steven Spielberg and Sidney Poitier. Frank Sinatra, Barbara Streisand and Bob Dylan have sung their way into history. Television, also born in America, has left its mark — Edward R. Murrow, M*A*S*H* and The Lucy Show– along with stand-up comedians, like Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Cosby who kept us laughing.

“I could go on and on with what I love about America,” commented Bill Jones. “Mostly, it’s the people: as bad as it can look if you get all your information from the TV, most of the people of the US are reasonable, freedom loving, fun loving, and open-minded.”

Navy machinist receives citizenship certificate aboard Navy ship12) The Diversity and Generosity of its People – Many people pointed to their admiration of the melting pot of ethnicities that America has become over the centuries. From great migrations of Irish people fleeing famine, and Italians looking for jobs, America has welcomed, for the most part, people of all cultures to join their ancestry to ours. “I love the fact that we have so many people from so many different backgrounds, with so many different beliefs and cultures,” wrote Diane Korf.

One of the greatest traits of the American people, which has constantly been heralded in the Good News Network in story after story, is their generosity. (And, that includes the generosity of those who serve in the military.)

“The United States of America? Spectacular generosity and kindness of heart to nations in need,” concluded Ngaire Wadman. “Happy 235th birthday, USA.”

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