This week we celebrate America’s independence. Are you proud to be an American? I certainly am and quite frankly, I can never remember a time when I wasn’t proud of that fact. As soon as I was old enough to know what being an American meant I was proud of being one.

Now, I can’t say that I have always been proud of what we might have done as a country, but my devotion to my nation has never been in doubt. Just about everyone reading this column will remember when our First Lady made her famous statement about being proud of her country for the first time in her life. For her I guess pride depended on a certain action or maybe a certain person.  

But no one person or any one action should define whether or not we are proud of our nation. It is our collective actions and what we stand for that determines the way we feel about the country in which we live.  

Our president seems to want to apologize to the world for America’s greatness – almost as if we should be ashamed for who we are as a nation. But before he apologizes again, maybe he should stop and consider all that we do for the rest of the world. And, we are able to do those things because we have achieved great things and are able to help other countries in their time of need.

I have always been amazed at how the countries that criticize us the most are the ones that are the first to ask (and even demand) our help during times of crisis. And, even though they don’t really appreciate our efforts we are still the first ones to respond — because that’s what we think we are supposed to do.

What do you think would happen if just once we said no — you need to take care of yourselves? We would quickly be ostracized and condemned as uncaring and un-Christian. But yet when we do respond, we are still treated with disdain and contempt. And, someone thinks we need to apologize for being too imperialistic and for daring to be great while other countries flounder? I think not.  

America is great because of what we stand for — for individual freedom and opportunity, for the right of self-determination and for standing up for what we believe in. Yet many in our society think that the values of pride should be tempered lest we offend those in our country that come from other nations. They have a warped sense of what it means to be a proud American.

Are we sometimes arrogant? You bet we are. Do we sometimes go too far in meddling in other countries affairs? Yes. But if we do not lead, then who will? If we don’t help then who does?  

I have met many people who have come to this country seeking a better life for their families. And, I respect them for wanting what we have. But under no circumstances does anyone have the right to come to this country and then expect us to defer to their sensitivity by tempering our pride in being an American.  

If someone is offended by my flag waving and national pride then by all means please leave. That is one of the freedoms that we guarantee — your right to leave. I expect people to celebrate their heritage but if you live in America then take pride in this country or go somewhere where you can be proud.  

Proud American? You bet I am. I still cry at times when I see the flag waving or hear the national anthem. I still salute the flag and wear the mantle of veteran with dignity and pride. I honor the memory of those who died to preserve this republic and I thank those that continue to serve so that we might be free.

I will never apologize for being an American or for what we stand for. This is the greatest nation that has ever existed in the history of the world but if we don’t love her enough and protect what our patriots have died for then we don’t deserve that title.

This weekend, enjoy the parades and fireworks, the picnics and the family time, but never, for even a moment forget that Americans died so you can take for granted what every other country in the world wants – freedom.

Kevin Wilson writes a weekly column for the Daily News.