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Five Proud American Moments in My Lifetime
Flag of the United States of America
Proud to be a U.S. American
Throughout my whole life, I have always felt proud to be an American. I felt a sense of pride while serving in the U.S. Navy, and even more pride in my accomplishments during a career with the federal government. There have been five defining moments in my life which have made me extremely proud to be an American. The events around these moments have demonstrated the true characteristics of the fabric of my country: hard work, sacrifice, and perseverance.
U.S. Marines Hoisting Flag at Iwo Jima
VJ Day, 15 August 1945
Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin Saluting the American Flag During Apollo 11 Mission
Neil Armstrong's Moon Walk
1980 XIII Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, New York
Germans on the Berlin Wall a Few Days Before Its Fall in 1989
Five Proud American Moments
There have been many national and international events during my life which have made me feel proud to be an American. The following five events, however, are the most significant:
1. VJ Day on August 15, 1945:
Although I was only a year old when World War II ended, I heard a lot about the war from my late mother when I got older. Mom worked in a defense plant during the war, and one day she happened to show me a diary she kept during the war. I can still remember her entry for VJ Day: "Today the war ended. Paulie, you will never know what we all had to sacrifice and endure." For almost four years, America, as a member of the Allies, was locked in a vicious struggle with the Axis nations of Japan, Italy, and Germany. Without hard work, sacrifice, and perseverance there would have been no victory.
2. Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962
At the time of the two-week Cuban missile crisis in 1962, I was in my first year of college and very busy. What I do remember, however, is that it undoubtedly was one of the major confrontations between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. When the U.S. discovered that Cuba was constructing missile sites for medium-range and intermediate-range ballistic nuclear missiles directed towards the U.S. provided by the USSR, the United States initiated a military blockade of Cuba. The purpose of this was to prevent the Soviet Union's delivery of offensive weapons to Cuba. The confrontation ended on October 28 when the U.S., U.N., and USSR reached an agreement. In the open agreement, the United States agreed to never invade Cuba again, and the Soviet Union agreed to dismantle the Cuban missile sites and return its offensive missiles to the USSR. Secretly, the United States agreed to dismantle the US-built intermediate range ballistic missiles (IRBM) deployed in Turkey and Italy. Due to President Kennedy's outstanding leadership in this dark hour, the country and I felt very proud that he didn't back down and let the Soviet Union have its way in Cuba.
3. Neil Armstrong's Moon Walk on July 21, 1969:
When Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon as part of the Apollo 11 moon landing mission, I was stationed in Taiwan with the U.S. Navy. I will never forget how proud I felt walking around Taipei on the evening I learned that the Eagle had landed. At his inauguration in January of 1961, I can still remember President Kennedy saying that America will put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Although there were setbacks and astronauts sacrificed their lives, America did live up to Kennedy's prediction. The moon landing also showed that America had defeated the Soviets in the space race which was extremely important at the time.
4. The U.S. Hockey Team's Victory Over the Soviet Union at the 1980 Winter Olympics:
The U.S. hockey team's miracle victory at Lake Placid, New York, couldn't have come at a better time. At the time, I was living in Ohio after having recently returned from overseas. The U.S. was encountering rough times both at home and abroad. Inflation was running at double digits. Internationally, the Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan and Iran was holding our embassy personnel hostage. Then, out of nowhere, a group of college kids defeated the Great Bear. As Americans, this gave us a sense of pride and great encouragement that we could do anything if we put our mind to it.
5. The Fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989:
The Berlin Wall was the number one symbol of the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviets. By the late 1980s, the Cold War had been going on for over 40 years. Its accompanying nuclear-armed missile race was the only thing I had known growing up, When the Soviet empire started to crumble in the late 1980s, we knew that all of our hard work was starting to pay off. I was working for the federal government when news came that the Berlin Wall was finally down. A few months later, all of us received commendations for our efforts during the Cold War.
There will be more defining moments of American pride in the future. As long as Americans maintain their hard work, sacrifice, and perseverance, I am confident that the United States of America can confront any difficulty or adversary and come out victorious.
© 2011 Paul Richard Kuehn