Every day of my life I give thanks for being an American. I had nothing to do with where I was born, but I am grateful for this accident of birth. I mean no disrespect for any other country. I was born into a working class family in upstate South Carolina. My parents were the salt of the earth. They were the kind of people who made this the great country that it is.

My wife was born into poverty in West Virginia. Most would have said that she had no chance for a successful life. Both of us received good educations. Both of us enjoyed great, successful careers and after different paths we found each other. Neither of us could have had the lives we have enjoyed any place else in the world.

I am proud that my country is still striving for that more perfect union. I am proud that we elected an African/American as president, but I will be just as happy when we elect a woman or a Hispanic. I will be even happier when those qualifiers are not even mentioned.

I am thankful that we are free to worship or not worship as we please. I salute the flag. I proudly recite The Pledge of Allegiance and my spine tingles with the sounds of our national anthem. In the words of the country song, “I am proud to be an American.”

I pray without shame, God bless America.

As we celebrate Independence Day, give thanks for all of those who gave their lives that you and I could enjoy this great land of freedom. Give thanks for those who strive every day to make this a more perfect union. Give thanks for those whose political opinions are different from yours because that means that we are still free to disagree and to express those disagreements.

On this Thankful Thursday and every day of my life, I am blessed to be an American and I am grateful for it.