By: Officer Deon Joseph

I’ve been a social media junkie for a while. I must admit what was one of my favorite guilty pleasures has become a place of complete vitriol and polarized partisanship.

I have never seen America this divided. There have been many arguments as to whether America is the greatest country in the world or if America was ever great at all. In many debates, individuals wanted to know my stance on it.

Well … Here it is. America is a story. A story that is adding more pages every single day. Stories of darkness and sadness, horrors and tragedy, injustice and marginalization, but also…

·       A nation of evolution

·       A nation of decency, patriotism, change, and heroes

·       A nation of promise, diversity, and unlimited potential

·       A place where we can speak our truth, and sadly even our lies

·       A nation where many had no rights, to a nation that allows people to fight for rights, and win

·       A nation of selfless men and women who put their lives on the line at home or abroad

·       A nation of decent, good-natured people from all walks of life, whose stories do not get told, and are overshadowed by the negative exceptions of this nation

·       A nation where we can freely pray or believe in God, or not

This is the same America that marginalized and demonized my father in the Jim Crow south and then became the America that made him a successful small businessman.

The same America that put staples in my burger as a 7-year-old child, because they did not want me in their restaurant, is the same America that allowed me to be a police officer at 23 years old, where I found my true calling of helping Americans and those from abroad experiencing homeless.

I will always hate the atrocities of America’s past. But I will not hate the majority of the good people of its present. I will not ignore the good within it. America is not perfect. No country is. But it is still the greatest democracy on earth to me.

I will always stand for what is good about this nation. And when we turn off social media and other mediums trying to tear us all apart, or force us to pick sides, we all will be able to see that. I will always celebrate and honor the best within us.

The story of America is not done. With every page added from generation to generation I am encouraged, not discouraged, no matter who is in the White House. I will always try to see the good in us as Americans. Whether you are black, white, and all in between, gay, straight, rich or poor, a person of faith or not.

That’s how I feel.

We are beautifully imperfect, and I love “US.”

I was inspired by this as I met some wonderful people today from all walks of life in the gardening section of Home Depot.

Happy Birthday America!