Melody says I'm turning into a curmudgeon.

Melody says I'm turning into a curmudgeon. The boys would probably call me a grumpy old man. I, myself, prefer the term outspoken. As much as I hate to admit it, it does seem that I'm getting more critical as I grow older and I need to work on that attitude – except where it applies to my country and the things that are happening at this moment in history.

Last week I was driving toward the Walmart intersection and, as I always do, I looked up at the big American flag flapping in the breeze – the symbol of the greatest nation on earth. And, every time I see that flag I can't help but get emotional and think about what a privilege it is to live in this country.

Unlike some people, there was never a time in my life where I wasn't proud of my country. Now, I would be the first to admit that there have been times in our history that we shouldn't be proud of but just because I'm not proud of some of our actions doesn't mean I can't still be proud to call myself an American. Great nations will make mistakes but they learn from them and move forward even better and stronger because of them – or at least they should.

Right now is one of those times that I'm just not too proud of the actions of my country and that's why I'm such a curmudgeon (or should I say outspoken). When we think that our country is headed down the wrong path we have a moral obligation to speak up – not only for ourselves but for our future generations. I never want one of my decedents to say, "I wish my great-great-great-grandfather had raised his voice and said this is wrong."

I truly believe that our nation is at a tipping point in history. Are we going to continue to exist as the symbol of freedom and personal liberties or are we going to take the path of depending on Uncle Sam to take care of more and more of our needs? Are we going to fight for the rights of states to govern themselves or are we going to just say let Washington make all the decisions?

These are real questions and real decisions that we face at this very moment in our history. I think that historians will look back and see this time as a critical point in the future of America. And if we, as Americans, are not willing to speak out then that future is already decided.

Does speaking out for my country make me a curmudgeon or a grumpy old man? If it does then I don't really care. I guess that answers my question. The next question is, "are you going to sit idly by or are you going to speak up as well?"

Now is not the time to be timid – now, more than ever, is the time to be bold. The future of our country is at stake.

And, looking to the future is especially appropriate at this time as kids return to school after the summer break and the beginning of a new school year always brings with it new challenges and new opportunities. Some students are just beginning their formal academic journey and some are finishing it. But, regardless of where they are on that journey, they will be influenced by a teacher – either in a positive or in a negative way.

I fondly remember many teachers who I can point to as a huge reason I am where I am today. On the flip side, I can point to some teachers that had a huge negative influence on my life. Fortunately, those were rare and as I look back I thank them, because they actually forced me to go down a better path than I was going.

So, the point is that many teachers don't realize just how important they really are. They just think that they are teaching some subject when in reality they are teaching life and influencing lives. In our family we have an elementary teacher, a middle school teacher and a high school teacher. We've got every level covered except college and Melody has told me that I need to teach a course so we could complete the line.

I can think of no job or career in this country more important than that of a teacher and I want to publicly thank all our teachers for what they do for our kids and our future. Never underestimate the impact you have on others and always be proud of what you do.

Kevin Wilson writes a weekly column for the Daily News.