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George Chapman: A time for celebrating America: What are you grateful for?

By George Chapman

Published: Sunday, July 1 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

This time of year is a time to be grateful for our country. I invite everyone reading this to think about their own reasons to be grateful for this country.

I am grateful for our freedom of religion. I believe that it is an important reason for this country's success. It lowers the barrier between people of different religions and cultures. It allows the best and brightest from around the world to work together for the success of this country. This freedom is the greatest freedom, the freedom of thought. In his 1941 State of the Union address, President Franklin D. Roosevelt listed what he considered to be the universal four freedoms. Norman Rockwell popularized the four freedoms in one of his most famous paintings. Freedom of religion was one of those freedoms (along with freedom from want, freedom from fear and freedom of speech).

I am also grateful for our freedom of the press (with the required freedom of speech). Countries without freedom of the press can't improve their societies and systems without a truthful analysis of their government, businesses and systems. When people say that China will overtake us, they ignore the value of free speech and free press. The unexamined life won't improve, and without questioning government and society, that government and society won't improve. Utah's recent fight to continue to allow free access to government records, or GRAMA, was won by the citizens of Utah who fought for this freedom of the press.

Another reason that I am grateful for this country is our free public education system. It ensures a stable and vibrant economy and successful self-government. Education has always played an important role in the most successful societies in history. Education is the great equalizer, energizer and enabler for this country and its people. Thomas Jefferson considered his work in education to be equal in importance to the Declaration of Independence. Signey Rigdon said that the education of the rising generation is second in priority to worship of God. Utah did not become a great state because of digging in the dirt for riches. It became a great state because of its people. Our people are our greatest resource. Education is how we develop our greatest resource.

I am also grateful for this country because of the fact that we attract the best and brightest and hardest working from around the world. Like the Emerald City of Oz, we have the reputation that dreams have a better chance of coming true here in America, better than anywhere else. Despite all of the complaints and problems we have, our country is a better place than anyplace else, and that is something to be grateful for.

Despite the debates on these issues in Utah over the past few years, these are my reasons that this country is great and these are my reasons to be grateful.

Now it's your turn. What do you think makes America great? Stop complaining at least for a day. Be grateful and celebrate this country. This country makes for a better world. This is America.

George Chapman is a retired engineer and consultant living in Salt Lake City. He has traveled and worked in many countries around the world.

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