I have always considered myself very patriotic. My father served in the Navy during Vietnam, my grandfathers served during WWII and my great uncle also served in WWII and was killed in action. Because of this we always had a flag flying in some capacity, we always knew to put our hand over our hearts for the pledge and we took our hats off for the pledge and or anthem. Our parents and their parents taught us to have pride and respect for our country. We realized as much as we could even at a young age the cost of freedom and how lucky we were.
One of those people today who has respect and appreciation for this country is Mustafa Almansur. Mustafa was born in Basra, Iraq. He served in the Iraqi military and later became a prisoner of war for 3 years. After that time he came to the United States, joined the U.S. Army and eventually made his way to Rochester where he owns his own convenience store. The Red Cross helped Mustafa obtain a Certificate of Detention which is the first step for him to receive reparations for the years he was a prisoner of war. He is among many Iraq refugees in the United States who have already received certificates. I met Mustafa and he is genuinely grateful for all the United States and the organizations within it have done for him. He understands how fortunate he is to live in a country such as this. He knows that he is in the best place possible. He knows he is home. (for more on his story: Red Cross - Greater Rochester Chapter or TWC News Mustafa Story.
We should all be more like Mustafa. I’m not saying our country is perfect because it isn’t. I am saying that it is OUR country and we should take pride in that. We should remember that the freedom we have is because so many before us believed so completely in this great country they died to protect it.
So when you are having your picnic (please remember not to burn yourself with the grill – aka common sense) or swimming (remember all your swim safety rules) or watching fireworks (remember they are illegal in New York BUT just in case: July 4th Safety Tips) and or you hear the National Anthem, God Bless America or another patriotic song, I hope you get the goose bumps as I do when I think about the great United States of America and how blessed we really are to live here.