McGrath: What loving our country means

EDITOR'S NOTE: McGrath, the Democratic nominee for the US Senate, is a Naval Academy graduate and former Marine lieutenant colonel. A pioneer military aviator, she was the first woman to fly a combat mission in a Marine warplane and the first woman to pilot a Marine F/A-18 "Hornet" in combat. 


This year, I’ll be celebrating the Fourth in Independence, Kentucky, at their annual parade. While I look forward to having some fun with my family, I recognize it’s been a sobering year for our country, and it doesn’t feel like the usual celebratory time.

The truth is we’ve seen ways that our democracy is falling short of those ideals our Founders enshrined. When our faith and confidence as a nation is low, it’s up to us, patriots, to step forward to address those failures head on. This year has brought us a pandemic, an economy in freefall and glaring racial injustice being brought to the forefront. Most strikingly, we are being challenged with poor leadership. The good news is that this democracy we celebrate today has the capacity and tradition for us to be able to change those leaders—and we must do that, very soon.

To me, loving our country and being patriotic means less flag waving and more doing the work needed to make us a more perfect union. The Founders of this nation didn’t pretend they were flipping a magic switch on July 4th—they knew the fight for independence was a long, grueling road, and it was an undertaking that would take many generations to fulfill, if it worked at all. They also risked their lives, their families, and everything they had.

It’s in our bleakest moments when we must show our spirit, our stamina, and yes, our patriotism. We must speak out to establish justice. We must take action to promote the general welfare. And We the People are the ones responsible for replacing the leaders who fail us so that we can have faith and confidence in our nation once again.

I’ve never been more certain that we can do exactly that.

Happy Fourth from the McGrath gang. We’ll see you on the other side—where the work, and the love for our country, will carry on.