I have heard too many politicians discuss an America that I do not recognize. They talk about a nation where hope and respect have died and where fear and violence reign. They infer that American culture and heritage are inappropriate for future generations to retain or to celebrate and that our history is shameful. Their America is not my America. Let me tell you about our Fourth of July in Lincoln, Illinois.
As the sun set, we placed our lawn chairs and blankets on a grassy hill. Below us, children were dancing with sparklers in their hands; young adults were throwing Frisbees; and, pickup trucks were lining up to get a good view of the firework show later that night. There was an aroma of fireworks, mowed grass, corn dogs, and bug spray. Older ladies wrapped blankets tightly across their shoulders while young women strolled by in cutoff jeans and tank tops. As we sat down, I regretted my over indulgence of barbecued ribs and cold watermelon. Suddenly the music coming from the large speakers near the field house went silent. The color guard of American Legion veterans was announced and all stood with hats off and hands over hearts. As our National Anthem was played, we stood together, a community of Americans. No one cared if the person next to them was brown, black, white, old, young, rich, poor, male or female. We were Americans, respecting our flag and listening to our national anthem. As the song ended and the color guard retreated, the fireworks began. For thirty minutes, we scanned the dark sky, shouting our excitement as we watched fire in the sky, the reminder of heroes who gave their all for America.
I love America. I believe in America. I know that Americans, living free, will spread freedom to others.
I also believe that it is impossible for a leader to be successful without believing in what they are doing. Some of us have seen it: the supervisors who don’t believe in the mission or the people. Those supervisors never become successful leaders.
Leaders believe. They believe in the future. They believe in their people. They believe that they can make a difference.
Leaders are “all in.”
Politicians (local, state, and national) beware: If you don’t believe in America, I cannot believe in you. Your lack of faith in America’s future means you will fail as one of her leaders. We need more than you are promising. We can do so much better — We’re Americans!