Commentary: What Makes America Great? Easy, its people

By Jim Daly

What makes America great? That is the topic of this year’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Voice of Democracy Scholarship Essay program that was just completed. The Washington State winner will be announced at the Awards Banquet Jan. 18, in Yakima at the “midwinter” conference. That winner qualifies for the National competition against 51 other state winners, for a $30,000 scholarship that will be awarded in February at the National Award Banquet in Washington D.C.

That question has an easy one word answer: people. The people of this country are exactly what makes this country great.

I have done many things in my life. I have been a student, an aircraft mechanic, electronics technician, policeman, security guard, inventor, and an infantryman. I was a college teacher, a counsellor, computer systems engineer, web page designer, and have coached track, softball, baseball, and cross-country. I have even worked as a chaplain, Chief Executive Officer, computer programmer, internet protocol design engineer, database management systems design engineer, actor, and musician. I have been a medic, an accountant, advocate, community organizer, logistician, paratrooper, husband, father, salesman, procurement officer, athlete, and writer. And I am sure I missed a few.

Maybe someday I should grow up a get a job and maybe develop a career.

But this is not about me. I’m not bragging. My point in listing these many jobs I have performed is to point out a few of the many, many, many, different occupations and functions it takes for this civilized world we live in to operate.

This country is great because we have the freedom to get an education in one or many fields at one or more of the greatest schools and institutions in the world. We can pursue work that we enjoy and/or provides us an income. We can choose what we want to do and can change our minds when we want to for whatever reason we find.

This country is great because we have the ability to travel wherever we wish, whenever we wish. We can move for our jobs, for our relatives, our health, or for fun. We have the ability to influence our government, select our leaders and even become part of the government. We can even choose to do nothing, and this great country has systems that will take care of us.

This country is great because immigrants from other countries can come and take advantage of all America has to give. They can take advantage of the education systems, the infrastructure, the support systems, and the economy to make themselves what they want to be. To become the American dream.

Ronald Reagan said: “The American dream is not that every man must be level with every other man. The American dream is that every man must be free to become whatever God intends he should become.”

There are a few other great countries in the world, and I have seen 27 countries in the world. But none of them offer all people the American Dream. I have seen a lot of the world and I want to live here.

The government is great. The economy is great. The country’s infrastructure is great. The systems that hold our country together are great. The freedoms we have are great. The opportunities we have are great.

What makes America great? The people that are this country.

Please Remember: Many of our young men and women have sacrificed greatly around the world, to protect our country, our rights and freedoms, our allies, and the Flag of the United States of America. I am proud to have been one of them, and would gladly defend this great country again today or any day.

Jim Daly, a retired captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, is a member of the Aberdeen Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 224 and its Veterans Service Officer. He is also a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America.