Patriotism with a dash of state pride

The Fourth of July — The very mention of the holiday conjures up images of the quintessential American dream: neighborhood barbeques set against a backdrop of sparkling fireworks, served up with a ice cold glass of freedom. Each year, Independence Day plays host to an outpouring of national pride as we come together to celebrate the birth of America.

And we certainly have much to be proud of in America. Maybe you’re proud of our troops, or the opportunities we’ve been given as citizens of the greatest nation on Earth. Maybe you’re just thankful that you are lucky enough to have been born into a nation that values life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The pride we feel for our nation brings us together; it unifies us into an enormous community that spans the width of an entire continent.

In Alaska, we have own particular brand of pride, a fact that you may have noticed through our subtle use of the ubiquitous “Alaska Grown” hoodies.

As Alaskans, we have every right to be proud of our state. The fact of the matter is that it takes a special type of person to brave the Alaskan winters, the summer tourists and the ever-present threat of a mosquito invasion. In Alaska, our lifestyles and daily challenges are far different from the rest of the nation, and we are fiercely proud of that fact.

We have a culture that is uniquely our own. What other state actively hunts their state bird? What other state pays its residents a yearly dividend just for living there? What other state loses its mind the second the construction of an Olive Garden is announced?

Let’s face it, we’re a rather different breed in Alaska, and it’s one of the many reasons that we love our state like we do. The name “Alaska” carries a sense of wonder with it, and when we travel abroad it’s the first thing we tell the people we meet, if only to see their small smile of approval.

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As strong as our love for our state is, it is humbling to know that there are 49 other communities across the country that feel the exact same way — 50 different communities, each as fiercely proud of their states as we are, yet united in our common heritage as Americans.

That patchwork quilt of diverse cultures is the very backbone of America; we are and always have been an eclectic group with different beliefs and heritages, but we are bound together by this great nation.

This is what we celebrate on the Fourth of July: our pride for the nation that has given us the freedom to be unique, the men and women that gave their lives for that freedom, and the continued sacrifice of those who work to make America great.

So this year, go out and be proud. Be proud that you live in a nation that ensures your inalienable rights from birth. Be proud that you live in the most beautiful state of that nation. But most of all, be proud of who you are. We are Alaskans, but we are also Americans, and that is a truly a fact to celebrate.