We get a feeling when we see the American flag raised, the national anthem played, and our men and women in uniform saluting. Children look up and put their hands over their hearts. Men take off their hats. For a moment, we are united.

But in the daily rancor of politics, which leaves so many people disappointed in their country, can we elevate that sense of American greatness that causes us to pause in those moments?


Kim Holmes says we can—and today is a good day to be reminded. America’s value is something that every veteran has fought for since the Revolution. Holmes says:

The American creed of freedom has been a unique force for good in world history. It has liberated many millions of people around the world. November 11, the day we honor our veterans, was chosen originally to commemorate the Armistice of 1918 that ended the fighting of World War I, the so-called “war to end all wars.” It didn’t, of course. We’ve gone to battle again and again to fight the forces of oppression.

Yet then, as now, Americans believed they were fighting honorably for something larger than themselves. This cause has motivated our soldiers and diplomats through the horrors of World War II, the Cold War, and beyond, and its impact has been great: No country in the history of humankind has sacrificed more than the United States to free people from bondage.

America has been great because it stood for freedom. And while the country has been going in a direction that dismays many people, it can be every bit as great again, Holmes says in his new book. In Rebound: Getting America Back to Great, the longtime Heritage policy leader explains why the idea of American greatness—sometimes referred to as “exceptionalism”— isn’t something to apologize for.

It’s simply admitting a fact about the country itself. People the world over had always known that America was different. That’s why so many millions of immigrants came here. The American Dream—the belief in hard work, individual responsibility, and freedom—set America apart and was a major reason it was so successful.

As the leader of the free world, America carries an “exceptional” burden for the security and freedom of other peoples—which is generous, not arrogant.

Today we thank all of our veterans who have fought and continue to fight for freedom around the world. They have made America’s greatness possible.

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