How are you a Grateful American?

308In what ways do you consider yourself to be a Grateful American? That’s the question that author and publisher David Bruce Smith is investigating in the Grateful American™ Foundation. 

“Our mission is to make it fun to learn about American history,” says Smith, who borrowed the idea for the Grateful American™ Foundation from his father, developer and philanthropist Robert H. Smith. “My father always referred to himself as a Grateful American. He realized that the community and this country have been good to our family, and he wanted to give back. This Foundation is my way of doing the same.”

Write to us and be part of our survey! Simply send us an email telling why you’re a Grateful American—and don’t forget to send your photo: “Here’s why I’m grateful.” — Hope Katz Gibbs, executive producer, Grateful American™ Series


HOW ARE YOU A GRATEFUL AMERICAN? Here’s what people are saying … 


Screen Shot 2014-07-05 at 10.41.40 AMI am a Grateful American because by living in this country, which imposes no individual, governmental, or political unrest, I have the ability to build my own business. I have had the freedom to take a great idea and, through hard work, build it into a thriving gardening business. Now in our fifth year, GardenU’s personal garden coaches contribute on a daily basis to the health and wellbeing of our clients through gardening. In our own unique way, we help protect and sustain this wonderful country’s environment for which I am so grateful.” — Stephanie Bhonslay, owner and founder, GardenU with her sister and business partner, Donna Shulman, executive garden coach


HIlary Blair“I have always been grateful to be an American, and when I look at my international friends who made the choice and effort to immigrate here, I am reminded how truly fortunate I am. I am awed by the creative vision that our founders set in motion more than two centuries ago. When I talk with those friends, I am reminded how many freedoms I enjoy as an American and as the owner of ARTiculate Real & Clear—freedom of speech, the right to work where and how I choose, and the right to vote. Back in the late 1770s, these rights were but a dream, especially for a woman. Today, they are my reality, and I don’t take any of it for granted.” — Hilary Blair, founder and CEOARTiculate Real & Clear


MartaBota copy“I am a Grateful American because I’ve seen the opportunities this country offers in my own family. My father was a first generation American. His parents were born outside of Naples, Italy and came to America searching for better opportunities right after they were married. My mother was born and raised in Havana, Cuba, and came to the United States only months before Fidel Castro took over her country. I was brought up by my parents to appreciate and value the freedoms and opportunities that we have available to us in this great country! As an entrepreneur, I feel that this is still the land of opportunity! As a woman I know that my voice is heard and that I have equality! As an American citizen I have freedom! I am so grateful to be living and working in the United States of America!” — Marta Bota, makeup artist, owner, mbfacedesign.com


SONY DSC“I am grateful to live in a nation where we are empowered to build our lives into what we choose, regardless of the circumstances into which we were born. Some of us, no doubt, have bigger barriers than others, but the potential is always there somewhere to live beyond other people’s expectations. There are people in this country about whom expectations are low, but who become the first in their families to go to college. There are people who seize opportunities and take risks, and people who work tirelessly every day to increase the opportunities of their children and their neighbors. Which leads me to a related object of my gratitude: That so many people are committed to the creation of safety nets and outreach and programs that remove barriers for those who are eager to build something. I’m grateful for the American sense of responsibility to our neighbors that comes from the pride of self-fulfillment, the ‘giving back.’ This is a nation of people who see in each other an unlimited capacity to do amazing things.” — Nadene Bradburn, president, Blackwell Associates, Inc.


Cabrera_Orlando“I am grateful to be an American because of our country’s remarkable capacity to both change and accommodate change. My parents, like many political exiles, left their country of origin because of the country’s incapacity to adapt and accommodate competing thoughts. This caused intellectual and physical death, as well as incessant and seemingly perpetual repression. They had many choices when they were deciding where to live, and they chose the United States.  It was a deliberate choice. They wanted their children to truly experience freedom, and not arbitrary notions of freedom that might exist only when convenient to the governmental institution in power at any given time. While political conversation in our country has become more impassioned than during my youth, the passion behind the speech rarely erupts into the kind of violence that actually threatens the underlying beliefs we all share. Unlike the majority of other countries, the dissent we tolerate (mostly) in the United States results in repression from either a defensive institution or the ensuing revolutionary government resulting from the dissent. When controversy has occurred here over the centuries, it has led to greater freedom. This has made us stronger and more vital by virtue of working to assure that our constitutionally established rights are extended as far as possible. In the coming years, I believe the trend will be toward greater and more refined notions of freedom that are in keeping with the marriage and interplay between our fundamental beliefs and the reality experienced by the American people.  While I was born during an era when people who weren’t in a majority were often treated viciously by our own institutions, I now live in a time when someone who almost certainly would have suffered unspeakable unfairness and hate is now the twice-elected president of the United States. It is a rare country where such a thing is possible.  We are experts at change and transformative political evolution, and that expertise makes us very committed to keeping what we have possessed for over 200+ years. I treasure the fact that most of us have no doubt that despite the possibility of a veritable chasm in political or personal belief between us, few of us realistically fear that our core ideals as Americans might be jettisoned in favor of some other less free system. My parents never experienced that kind of belief in their country. Few other countries in the world possess the capacity to successfully adapt and remain as free as we are. A Liverpudlian captured it very well – “You say you’ll change the Constitution, well you know, we all want to change your head.” — Orlando Cabrera, attorney, Washington, DC


RitaCheng“As we celebrate the freedom we enjoy as Americans on July 4, I reflect on how grateful I am for my career as a Certified Financial Planner Professional. It is abundant with opportunities for personal and professional growth. As an Asian-American, I know that my opportunities would be much different if I had been born in another country. In fact, I am not sure I would have been able to launch my own firm in 2013 if I weren’t living in America. I have long lived by the sage advice imparted by Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius from his Meditations on Stoic philosophy: ‘Do not indulge in dreams of having what you have not, but reckon up the chief of the blessings you do possess, and then thankfully remember how you would crave for them if they were not yours.’” — Rita Cheng, CEO, Blue Ocean Global Wealth, author, Wealth Management Rules,


wendy2“To be honest, I have to admit that I am not now a Grateful American. Although for most of my life I have been—and with all of my heart, mind, voting rights, spending power, and personal and professional influence—I want to be again.  Perhaps that makes me a perfect candidate to write about  how much I believe in the Grateful American™ Foundation. For while I’m thankful to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Robert H. Smith, and his son David Bruce Smith, I believe our current government to be damaged and damaging in so many ways.  It has broken my faith and key parts of my businesses, not to mention what today’s divided government has done to negatively impact millions of others in this country and around the world. But rather than fret or complain about things I can’t control, I relish the opportunity to get a good conversation going about what can be done to improve our nation. I believe the best place to start is to study our history. There’s no better place to see where we are, and where we want to go, than looking back at what did and did not work in the past. Scan this website. Listen to the interviews. Pick up a book about your favorite Founding Father/Mother. Educate yourself, and educate others. Let’s do it together! Start here. Start now!” — Wendy Dubit, founder, vergant.com and ICEinfo.org


“I am a grateful American because I have a sense of history. I acquired the beginnings of this invaluable spiritual gift very early. I realized my grandparents, David and Mary Fleming, could not read or write. They had been born in awful poverty in Ireland. They came here hoping for a better life, and instilled the same desire in their four children. My father was a war hero in World War I and afterward a successful local politician. He taught me one of the crucial things about being grateful—you give back. I saw him help hundreds of people find jobs in the Great Depression. He made sure they had decent food to eat on Thanksgiving and Christmas. He was a caring man. As I grew older, I realized this tradition of caring was an essential part of my American heritage. I will never forget the day I first read George Washington’s wonderful words, ‘To see this country happy is so much the wish of my soul, nothing else can compare to it this side of Elysium.’ This desire to widen the circle of happiness to include everyone has made America a great and enduring country. It has also made me deeply grateful for this heritage.” — Tom Fleming, historian, novelist, author, The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers


Ashley“For the past year I have been fortunate enough to travel to different European countries while studying for my master’s degree in London. Traveling exposed me to different cultures, religions, and beliefs. Upon returning back to America, I am more aware of how diverse this beautiful country is; whether I am going out for a drink at a bar or just walking down the street, I have the potential to meet people with connections from all over the world. There was heartbreak and ultimately triumph on this journey to equality, but it is because of those heroes that I am proud to call myself an American.” — Ashley Freund, graduate student


Gershon headshot 2014-03343“I was born in New York in 1940, when the second World War was beginning in Europe, and I have lived through some of humanity’s worst times.  I don’t need to recount the mass murders of millions during WWII, but mass murders in the millions have taken place multiple times since, including the murders during the rule of the Khmer Rouge Communist party in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979.  More millions of people died as a result of politically inspired mismanagement of economies that resulted in widespread famine, particularly more than 10 million deaths during the Chinese famine of 1959-1962, and starvation on a large scale in North Korea from the early 1990s until today.  There were, of course, other instances of mass murder, particularly the 1994 civil war in Rwanda where more than a half million innocents were murdered, but I would like to discuss here nations with which the United States was in some way involved.

During my lifetime, I believe that overall the United States has been on the side of the angels, starting with its role in WWII when our side brought an end to the Nazi regime and its genocides.  But what about afterward?  There is a telling answer: in several of the conflicts in which we were involved militarily, which ended without regime change on the other side, our surviving opponents showed themselves as mass murderers by direct action and indirectly through large-scale death induced by their political systems.  This was true of the now-reformed Chinese Communist regime for decades after the Korean War, of the North Korean Communist regime, and also true of the Communist coalition of Southeast Asia after the end of the Vietnam War.  I do not see these evils as perpetrated by or natural reactions to the aggression of the United States, as has been claimed; if anything, they were aided by our ending our involvement in the conflicts indecisively.

All this is offered as preamble to a view of the world since 9/11.  I am familiar with the view that the problem is US aggression and indifference to the opinions and beliefs of the rest of the world.  I would argue to the contrary, that we have enemies who have attacked us with deadly force directly and repeatedly for decades, in the name of a radical formulation of Islam. In multiple other countries they have also carried out numerous large-scale murders of civilians, through suicide bombs and other methods, and have attempted but failed to achieve many additional attacks.  After Iraq became a battleground, they were responsible for the Iraq insurgency. This is not to say that Islam is necessarily warlike or an enemy of the US, but that a large part of the Islamic world, passively or actively, is going through a period of militancy in which the US is “the Great Satan” (and Israel is the “Little Satan”).  Today’s radical Islamic movement is similar to the militancy that dominated Christianity in the time of the Crusades, when large-scale murder and mayhem was perpetrated by the Crusaders wherever they took themselves, and the pacific nature of Christianity was very much submerged.

Since the 9/11 and other attacks, many people have come to believe that there are particular and justified grievances of that Islamic movement, particularly the continued existence of Israel and the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and that if the balance were tipped, and their grievances were settled advantageously for the Islamic side, the movement would become peaceful.  One is reminded of the Munich conference of 1938, which made concessions that dismantled Czechoslovakia in the name of “peace in our time.” Right now in the US, where the official policy of a series of Administrations has been to sanction Iran, any statement or suggestion that the radical Islamic movement is related to terrorism is not allowed in public statements by members of the current Administration. Meanwhile Iran, the leading Islamic republic of our time, threatens to wage nuclear war, and is very close to the capability to do so. I do not believe the recent agreement on nuclear weapons with Iran will have any beneficial effect at all; it is eerily similar to the Munich accords. I would not underestimate the ambition of Iran to become an aggressive world power in the service of radical Islam, or the millions of people who hope to see this movement succeed in ruling a large part of the planet.  And I would not underestimate their capacity to achieve their aims by strategies of violence, intimidation, duplicity, and correct assessment of their enemies’ weaknesses.” — Elliot S. Gershon, MD, Foundations Fund Professor of Psychiatry and Human Genetics, University of Chicago


As a journalist, author, and publisher, I am most grateful for my First Amendment right to Freedom of Speech. Of course, the Bill of Rights was originally proposed as a measure to assuage Anti-Federalist opposition to ratifying the Constitution, and the First Amendment applied only to laws enacted by Congress. Many of its provisions are interpreted differently today—especially the Free Press Clause, which protects publication of information and opinions, and applies to a wide variety of media. I am also grateful for the many opportunities I enjoy as an entrepreneur here in America. Where else would a nice Jewish girl from Philadelphia have the chance to create a small media empire that helps small-business owners everywhere realize their dreams? Only in America!” — Hope Katz Gibbs, executive director, Grateful American™ Foundation / founder and president, InkandescentPR.com


AdamGoodheartAs Americans, each of us inherits our country’s whole history, whether our forebears came here aboard the Mayflower, or through Ellis Island, or on a jet airliner. This means that all of us share equally the burdens of our national legacy: deep-rooted injustices that we must continue working together to overcome. But it also means that each of us is an equal partner in a glorious project: the most successful democratic experiment that the world has ever known. History has perennially proven that freedom cannot stand still; like any living thing, it must continue to grow and adapt if it is to survive. At our darkest hour, in the winter of 1861, Lincoln visited Independence Hall and said that the Declaration drafted there ‘gave liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but, I hope, to the world, for all future time.’ In my own lifetime, I’ve seen our nation sometimes succeed and sometimes stumble. Yet I feel grateful to have witnessed firsthand the expansion of civil rights for new groups of Americans, and to have seen democracy continue spreading, however imperfectly, throughout the world. Above all, I’m grateful that each of us can take a part, however small it may be, in our collective and continuing effort to fulfill Lincoln’s hope.” — Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold Director, C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, Washington College


KatImhoff“Until now, no one ever asked me to write down thoughts of why I am a grateful for being an American. … My first thought was to say thank you for the natural wonders I have seen in traveling and living from California to Maine, and places in between. There are so many beautiful and grand natural wonders elsewhere in the world that natural wonders do not set us apart; but we do stand apart in terms of our holding firm to the American idea of the illimitable freedom of the human mind, a Founding Fathers’ concept that pervades our public institutions and our laws. In America, I can practice, or not practice, my religion. As a woman I am keenly aware that there are no religious proscriptions on where I can travel, what I can wear, and how I can act or speak. When Jefferson and Madison were successful in passing the first governmental act establishing religious freedom, Madison wrote to Jefferson: ‘I flatter myself [that we] have in this country extinguished forever the ambitious hope of making laws for the human mind.’ Today in 2014, the fight to protect freedom for the human mind goes on—as it must go on, even in a democracy—and especially so in these times when we see so much human misery and chaos in lands where civil society first developed.” — Kat Imhoff, president and CEO Montpelier Foundation


Ellie“As an educator, if I am able to bring the love of learning to the children in my life, then I have fulfilled my goal. Nowhere else in the world can a person feel free to wear his own identity like in America and pass it on to his children. That is why I am a Grateful American. Born in Israel to a traditional Sephardi family, I continued my journey in London, England, for law school plus an additional three years and finally came to call the United States my home in 1998. I have never felt more free to be who I am and be proud of who I am more than here in the USA. My passion is my love for children and my trust in their abilities. I have channeled my interest away from the corporate world to venture into the nonprofit world now. Over the last few years I was able to fulfill my vision of creating a new model of school, combining Montessori and Hebrew Studies. Only here in America can I enjoy in particular the fact that at my school we teach Hebrew in Hebrew and the love of Israel and America openly and proudly. We use the Montessori methodology to show lessons about life, our environment and the world in addition to instilling the love of fellow human beings through commitment to global citizenship. If you educate the child, you educate the whole family. Engaging children and families in the love of learning is my goal because love gives faith and hope for our future. And here in America this dream of mine becomes reality each and every day.” — Ayelet “Ellie” LichtashExecutive Director & Founder, Alef Bet Montessori School


GeneLippa“How am I a Grateful American? The easiest way to answer this question is to point to the current geopolitical crisis in my birth country of Ukraine. The shameless landgrab by Putin started a civil war in the eastern part of Ukraine that threatens to destabilize the entire region. However, I would like to step back and talk about the reasons our family made the difficult decision to uproot ourselves and move to the United States. It all comes down to freedom of choice. The initial joy we experienced during the fall of the Soviet Union along with Ukrainian independence in August of 1991 quickly faded away. The people in power during Soviet rule stayed in power under the pretense of democracy. My father started his own business on the heels of our new-found freedom, but was forced to make monthly payoffs to the local mafia just to stay open. Here in the United States, he has started and operated several successful businesses without fear. As a 17-year-old teenager, I was approaching military draft age and was scheduled to be sent off to a meaningless bloody conflict with Chechnya. My father bribed government officials to delay my draft. Here, I choose how I want to serve my country. The lack of freedom of religion is another central topic that affected our decision to emigrate. On many occasions growing up, I was called derogatory names just for being Jewish. It was often made clear to me and to my family that we were not welcome in the country of our birth. Now we no longer have to fear for our safety. The United States is not without blemishes. However, I am a proud American because I can choose my own life and where I want to take it.  That was not possible in my home country when we left it 22 years ago, and it is not possible there now.” — Gene Lippa, fleet management supervisor, Enterprise Fleet Management


“As an American, I am deeply grateful for our legal system. It enables ordinary citizens to change the world in extraordinary ways. African-American families like my own understand the historic legacy of discrimination all too well, but by challenging discriminatory laws, breaking segregation barriers in public education, and organizing activists on a grassroots level, African-Americans have been able to use the American justice system to allow more citizens to live with dignity. The American activist heritage is alive and well at President Lincoln’s Cottage, where the Students Opposing Slavery program empowers young people from across the world to continue Lincoln’s fight for freedom. Each summer, teenagers convene at the very site where Lincoln developed the Emancipation Proclamation and commit themselves to fighting human trafficking by raising awareness of this crisis in their own communities and joining the global fight. With our protections of free speech and national legacy of activism, it is fitting that the students unite here in the U.S., and I am grateful that our nation has been and continues to be dedicated to making the world a better, safer place for all.” — Hilary Malson, marketing and membership coordinator, President Lincoln’s Cottage — a Site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation


“I’m grateful that as an American I have the opportunity and the duty to be engaged civically, environmentally, and culturally. Every day I look out over a landscape that is a true oasis in the city. This is a place that has been home to thousands of people who served their country. This is a place where President Lincoln developed his Emancipation Proclamation and struggled to maintain the only constitutional democracy that existed in his time while living here. It is a place where thousands more come each year to gain understanding, inspiration, and resources because they, too, want to make our world a better place. To me, being a Grateful American isn’t just about learning our history, it’s about understanding and acknowledging that what we do today is inextricably linked to our past. What we do today will be part of our shared history.” — Erin Carlson Mast, executive director, President Lincoln’s Cottage


“Every Thanksgiving, my parents rent a big house on the Florida panhandle, and my parents, siblings, and our families all spend a week at the beach together. Since the house we stay in is a rental, it’s both no one’s and everyone’s. We all come from other places to be together, and yet for a week, that place is home to all of us. That’s how I think of being an American, too. Except for Native Americans, the rest of us are all from somewhere else in either the recent or distant past, and are lucky to be here together. When I was 24, I traveled to what was then the Soviet Union as a chaperone for a group of Washington, DC, high school kids on a trip led by their history teacher. During the visit, a few of us met in secret with some “refuseniks” (Russian Jews who were scientists and had been refused permission to leave Russia). One of these scientists asked if I would take a letter to his scientific counterpart in the United States. It was jarring to realize that he couldn’t do his work openly and had to rely on strangers to convey even the most banal communication. I remember encoding his letter into my trip journal and standing with my heart in my throat as I went through airport security before returning home. More than 30 years later, when I try to articulate what makes me grateful to be an American, what comes to mind is freedom to come and freedom to go. Freedom to be alone, freedom to congregate. Freedom to have my own thoughts and freedom to express them. Or not.” — Kathleen McCarthy, senior vice president, InkandescentPR.com


“I am grateful for the Americans who came before me to make this a country that I love! As we approach the 4th of July and celebrate, I remember my mother who came to America from Scotland as a child and became an American citizen. She was a proud American and sincerely appreciated all that this country offered to her. She particularly loved to sing “God Bless America, Land that I love …” I am grateful for my father who served in the army in World War II, and my uncles who served in WWII and Korea. I love to travel to other countries and learn about other cultures, but I am always glad to be home in the USA. I am a proud and Grateful American!” — Barbara Mitchell, author, The Big Book of HR and The Essential HR Handbook


SeanOBrien“We often still refer to our government as an experiment, which means we are still trying to make things better. I am grateful because we are working toward that “more perfect” balance of rights and responsibilities. The freedom to chose one’s own path is a huge responsibility, but that is what makes this the land of opportunity and keeps us ever-optimistic about the future.” — Sean T. O’Brien, PhD, executive vice president and chief operating officer, James Madison’s Montpelier


Gary PetitI am a grateful American because I love the arts. As a former instructor in higher education, there was an important societal lesson that I taught all of my classes. The arts are dependent on a safe, free, and open civic body. For example, when there are restrictive governments, the arts suffer. When there is famine, the arts suffer. In the Middle Ages, when plague broke out, all of the theaters were closed to prevent gatherings of people. Even in Ancient Greece, when the Peloponnesian War took its toll on Athens, one of the greatest contributors to Western theater, the city had to shut down what had become a religious institution, the theater. Art thrives when a society has freedom of expression, freedom from concerns about physical well-being, and freedom to explore individual thoughts. As an American, I have those freedoms. Therefore, I am grateful because being an American allows me to explore the things I love, the arts. — Gary Pettit, Director of Communications, National History Day


As a child I lived overseas, and I remember what it feels like to be an American when most people around you are not—to feel the stirring of pride and superiority (for that’s the way it felt in the 1960s) when the “Star-Spangled Banner” was played. I now think of that kind of patriotism as childish, and mere tribalism: My group is better than yours. American exceptionalism is a delusion, and seems particularly silly in a time of rapid globalization. Still … the American Constitution, with its protection of basic freedoms of speech, the press, and religion (including the right to have no religion, or to make up your own) is one of civilization’s greatest achievements, and I’m grateful to live under those protections. History shows that those freedoms were—and still are—routinely violated, ignored, or subject to widely different interpretations. Southerners in the Civil War fought for “freedom”—including the freedom to enslave other people. Some see the influence of money on our political system as ‘free speech,’ while others see it as a tool by which the rich hold power over the rest. The debate goes on. It’s possible that most people don’t even want to be ‘free,’ if it means being different from everyone else. But I’m grateful that in America, freedom is still an ideal, if not always a reality.” — Tony Reichhardt, senior editor, Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine


“For me, being a Grateful American involves stopping to reflect on the truly exceptional characteristics of our society that most of us take for granted as we go about our daily lives. The list is enormous, but consider a few examples. If you disagree with something our government has done, you can stand directly in front of the White House or on Capitol Hill and make your position heard loudly, clearly, and even obnoxiously, and you can publish your views to the world without censorship. Artists in the United States can express themselves however they want, even if virtually everyone else finds the message or expression offensive. Even after the closest, most hard-fought elections, we have peaceful transfers of power. As a people, our creative energies, and our ability to transform and create entirely new industries, are unparalleled. And, in each generation, many of those who have personally benefited most from our free markets and capitalism have also given back to society enormous portions of their wealth through philanthropy. We can worship according to our own faith, or we can choose not to worship at all. These are just some of the threads that form the basic fabric of our society, and the remarkable thing is that they are so deeply established that we rarely even think about them. I try to do that from time to time – for example, on the Fourth of July, when many others are likewise thinking about them—and I try to discuss with my young children why these societal hallmarks are special and worthy of admiration. The fact that our collective ethos is so ingrained is remarkable and wonderful, but we should never let ourselves forget that it can easily erode. Even as we disagree vehemently about politics, religion, and myriad other things—disagreement being perhaps the most “American” of all of our traits—we should pause from time to time to celebrate the things on which we agree.” — Alec Rosenberg, partner, Arent Fox, Washington, DC


“I am grateful for my foremothers. Not only my biological mom and grandmothers, which I’m also grateful for—but for all of the other women, well-known and unknown, who have worked to make today’s society one where women like myself are equal players to any man. So many women spring to mind, including pioneers such as Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton, Jane Adams, Amelia Earhart, Betty Friedan, Maya Angelou, Sally Ride—and all the others who broke down barriers and helped to create a country where as women can do or be anything we choose. Of course, there is still much work to be done. But as the mother of two strong, smart, and independent young women (now 15 and 18), I am grateful for all who have paved the way and demonstrated how we can all work toward a society of freedom and equality.” — Angela Sontheimer, managing director, Lincoln Leadership Institute at Gettysburg


DarnellI’m a Grateful American because of our traditions, because America is the land of opportunity, and because I am free to do whatever I can dream up. I grew up knowing that I can achieve anything with hard work, and that is a freedom that people in so many other countries only wish for and dream of. There are so many reasons I’m proud to be an American, for this is truly the greatest country and I am so glad to call it home.” — Darnell Smith, concierge, capitolconcierge.com


PatWirth_portrait“I came into this world as one of the first Baby Boomers. Our Greatest Generation parents and extended family — who served in WWII or worked as Rosie the Riveters in factories that supported the war effort — raised us with a great deal of patriotism, love, and respect for the United States. I have always been a Grateful American because of that, and because of our Constitution. More recently, however, I became painfully aware of just how long American women had fought to be full citizens under the Constitution. Our nation’s textbooks omitted the fact that American women had not only been second-class citizens until the last century, but that they and their supporters had fought a 72-year-long battle for the right to vote, which they finally won in 1920 when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. The history and stories I have learned about the suffragists makes me a particularly Grateful American to those women, and to those citizens today who continue to fight for equal rights for all.” — Patricia Depew WirthExecutive Director, Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association