When Will it be Safe to “Come Out” as a Proud American?

By Greg Ganske

July 15, 2022

An amazing thing happened at Harvard’s graduation ceremonies recently.  One of this year’s Harvard grads, Julie Hartman class of 2022, was chosen by the Headmaster of her House (dormitory) to give its graduation speech on May 3, 2022, delivered at Harvard Chapel.

As a Harvard program graduate and the proud father of two daughters and a niece with Harvard graduate degrees, I have been dismayed at the woke, “shut up” if you disagree with us culture at Harvard, the Ivy league schools, and universities in general.

What surprised me about Ms. Hartman’s speech was not only what she said, but how brave she was to give it. What did not surprise me was that she received no applause, no recognition, no standing ovation for her profound courage.

All that greeted her from the crowded Harvard Chapel was silence.

The fact that there, in deepest wokedom and despite the threat of career cancelling that goes with deviancy from the ultra-left dogma, this young bright woman rejected the common wisdom that infects so many young people.

She would not self-censor. She would not muzzle herself even though she knew that what she was about to say would be a threat to her career. She spoke her mind.

And this was her profile in courage.

America was founded on life, liberty and equal opportunity.  We celebrate its founding based on Western classical liberalism each Fourth of July as enunciated by our Founding Fathers. That this brave young woman could bravely “come out” for our country’s values, patriotism, and goodness—even while standing in the midst of Harvard’s woke culture, at woke Ground Zero–there is hope for America.

Do yourself a favor and watch her six-minute speech. Click on the link provided.

Her words struck hard, because I just attended the funeral of a Marine Korean War veteran who was a Naval aerial navigator. Dave was buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis.  Over 250,000 soldiers and family are interred in those fields of white gravestones stretching on and on over 450 acres. Each funeral honor ceremony includes a color guard, a rifle volley, the folding, and presentation of the flag by aging VFW members and “Taps” by a bugler.

 Dave had a sense of humor.  Once when returning from a bombing mission he was radioed a request for their location.  Dave’s response, “We are lost but heading there as fast as we can!”  He fought for and loved his country deeply.

The ceremony made me also think about my own father who was a Navy aviator in WWII and was about to be sent to the Pacific for the invasion of Japan when President Truman dropped the atomic bombs that ended the war.  If every American could attend such a ceremony and learn of the sacrifices so many have made to preserve our liberties, I think we would see a change in attitudes especially by younger citizens.

Last year before the Fourth of July there was a poll. Most students interviewed at Georgetown University said they were “embarrassed” to be an American.


 The majority struggled to even say they were proud of being American.  One student summarized his feelings, “I think a lot of things about this country are really embarrassing: racist history, colonization, even currently just what’s going on with politics and the cops.”  Many said, “I don’t think this is the greatest country in the world” and that “a lot of times it’s just embarrassing” to be an American, citing how we support Israel which dislocates Palestinians.

It is interesting that when they were asked for a better country to live in, none could come up with a different country.  Maybe seeing all the immigrants lined up to get into our country gave them pause.

A Pew Research Center poll a year ago said that only 39% in the U.S. say they are proud of our country “most of the time.”  One in five are ashamed of their country. 48% of Christians in this country were proud of their country most of the time compared to only 22% of non-Christians.  Those on the left were most ashamed of racism, those on the right by “PC culture.”  Republican participants tended to see “patriot” as a positive label, those on the left hesitate to call the word patriotism “positive.”

America is not perfect, but its history is replete with attempts to correct its mistakes, to improve it. The emphasis on the negative especially in our schools and culture has gone on for some time. Two days after 9/11, I stood at the demolished heap of the Trade Center after firefighters and police officers had raced into the buildings to try to save lives.  They were heroes, many lost their lives with the victims. Amid the smoke and dust of thousands of Americans, there was an American flag draped on crossed twisted girders.

To my dismay, the creative director of the 9/11 Museum expressed his distaste at what he called “rah-rah America” and did not want the photograph of three ash-covered firefighters raising that American flag at Ground Zero.

I am sorry, Mr. Museum curator, but how did someone with your views even get the job? The United States is first among nations because it is based on the best of values and has defended them for us and for millions of others.

Like my friend, David.

Unfortunately, too many Americans don’t know the history of our country.  The 1619 Project says slavery is “at the very center of our national narrative” and makes 1619 the date of our nation’s founding rather than July 4, 1776.  According to the 1619 narrative, the Constitution was crafted to protect slavery which was the major motivation of the Revolutionary War.   Sure, slavery is part of our history, but this is a false interpretation of the Revolution’s causes as noted by many prominent historians, most of whom are liberal. And 700,000 Americans died in the Civil War to end slavery.

When I served in Congress, our family attended countless Fourth of July parades and patriotic celebrations, concerts, and picnics.  On parade routes, my children would love to throw candy to the kids, while I would zigzag, running back and forth across the street shaking hands.  In small towns and large, one could see the pride in our country and share the good will with everyone.

 It didn’t matter if my Congressional colleagues were Republican or Democrat–on the Fourth of July we were Americans marching to celebrate our national Holiday.  One of the gifts I’ve given my children is to appreciate that.

Today, if you question woke ideology and advocate for an exceptional America, and especially with a conservative viewpoint, you could lose your job and friends, even family. Harvard grad Julie Hartman was targeted for her views.

However, since deciding to “come out” with her views, she told Dennis Prager the truth has set her free.

A few years ago, during a budget spat with Congress, the Obama administration stopped the National Park Service from allowing fireworks at Mt. Rushmore on the Fourth of July.

One woke park service bureaucrat staffer, cautioned that allowing fireworks “. . .might even offend some people on Twitter!” President Trump fought the Park Service woke bureaucrats to get the magnificent fireworks show reinstituted. How is it not surprising that President Biden denied the request for 2021 and again this year!

We watched the fireworks elsewhere for Independence Day.

But 4th of July fireworks on a warm summer evening don’t make an American patriot.

If you want to be a patriot, follow the example of Julie Hartman. Don’t ever allow yourselves to be bullied into hiding your love of this country.

Instead, speak up as did our Founding Fathers and challenge the naysayers, remind them all about the good our country has done for the world and still does.


Greg Ganske, MD, is a retired surgeon and served Iowa for eight years in the United States Congress


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