More on American exceptionalism

A reader writes:

Brian, I just read your article in the January issue of Sojourners. You nailed it. I grew up believing that our nation was exceptional — a good kind of exceptional. We were the good guys, the ones who wear the white hats.

Be sure to read to the end …

When I was at Air Force ROTC summer camp, between my sophomore and junior years of college, I was chosen to be the guidon bearer for my flight. A guidon is a small flag on a staff. It carries the unit designation, so that, when a series of units march past the reviewing stand, the brass can know who’s who. As the guidon bearer, I was required to execute a rather difficult salute when the National Anthem played. To do that, you hold the guidon out in front of you, absolutely horizontal, with only one arm and using a most uncomfortable grip. It’s a challenge to do it right. I mention this only to say that, every time I did it, the discomfort was more than compensated by the emotional charge of being the one who was privileged to subordinate our unit’s flag to the U.S. flag, as a symbol of our willingness to serve such a worthy nation. I felt intense pride in our country and our way of life.
I honestly believed that we were the ones who upheld “truth, justice, and the American way”, and that the world was a better place for our being in it. I believed that the fictional Superman, were he real, would indeed reside in America, because we are who we are, the people who always do the right thing, even when it’s the inconvenient thing, because we know that doing the right thing always pays off in the end — and those who do the wrong thing will reap only transitory rewards and lose big in the end. If space aliens came to earth and asked to be taken to our leader, they would naturally mean the American President, not because he’s the most powerful man on earth, but because he deserves to be.
I used to be proud to be an American.
I don’t have to tell you the many ways in which the real America has disappointed. I don’t have to tell you the many ways in which the real Church has disappointed. And I am too ashamed to tell you the many ways in which I have disappointed.
But I choose not to give up my idealism.
America can be what it is called to be. The Church can be what it is called to be. And I can be who I am called to be.
These things are possible, and I hold out hope.

Beautifully put.