Proud to Be an American

Proud to Be an American

From Chicken Soup for the Latter-day Saint Soul

Proud to Be an American

And more blessed are you because you are called of me to preach my gospel—

D&C 34:5

My companion and I were walking up the sidewalk in San Remo, Italy—a city on the Italian Riviera—during the winter of 1982–1983. A woman about seventy years old planted herself right in front us and said, “I need to tell you something.” She spoke in perfect, unaccented English— something that didn’t happen very often in our area.

“Okay,” I said, a bit uncertainly.

“I’m an American citizen,” she explained. “My late husband was a merchant marine, and when he retired he decided that he wanted to retire here in San Remo. He’d fallen in love with it over the years he made calls here.

“I see so many young American kids come through here,” she continued, “and all my Italian friends see them, too. Those kids are scruffy—long hair, unshaven, unkempt, holes in their jeans, backpacks. All my friends here think that’s what American kids are all about.

“When I see you young men walking down the street— clean-cut, well-dressed and respectful—you make me proud to be an American. I grab my Italian friends and point you out to them every time I see you, and I say, ‘That’s what American kids are really like.’ Thank you.”

We smiled for the rest of the day!

Rich Rogers

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