Ain’t that America – Lou Lesko/Joel Sartore

Often, when traveling out of the country on the Fourth of July, I am put in a position of explaining that the media’s representation of America is woefully incomplete. “You mean the United States isn’t made up primarily of spoiled celebrities and serial killers?”

“Oh no.” I respond, “we just give them a home.”

Lesko Porch
photo by Lou Lesko

Traveling within the United States I am always thrilled to find that the vast diversity of the American landscape is alive and always growing and always changing. There is something wonderful about the people of this country. We have a tireless passion for reinvention. That spirit has resulted in monumental accomplishments which, thankfully, are still numerous enough and big enough to temper the absurdity of our missteps.

At the beginning of the financial crisis, when many pundits were writing off the United States, the most sage economists were saying the opposite. “There is too much innovation happening in some of the garages of America. You never know what the Americans will come up with next.” When I heard that I realized that the Fourth of July is as much a celebration of our independence as it is a celebration of our pioneering spirit.

Joel Sartore Fourth
photo by Joel Sartore

I am always surprised how much I miss the United States when I’m traveling abroad on the Fourth of July. I’m also surprised that, as much as people from other countries like to criticize the US, they also have a desire to live here. When I ask the reason why, the overwhelming response is “opportunity.”

Not everything is perfect here in United States. But it is an amazing feeling to know that we always have the freedom to make things better.