Commentary - Fostering the American spirit Published Dec. 2, 2011 By Chief Master Sgt. Mark Batzer 388th Fighter Wing HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- It's difficult to be positive when the news is riddled with bleak stories about our economic recession, 15+ trillion dollar debt, high unemployment and record housing foreclosures. While it can be easy to get beat down and accept failure, this is not the American way. Instead we must stay strong, pull together and aggressively take action to correct the situation. From a holistic standpoint our Nation's current economic situation is overwhelming but with commitment and determination I think we can and will pull out of this slump. While some approaches will not reap the desired affects, we as American's don't give up! Our Nation was built on sacrifices, strength, ingenuity and optimism, so we must not waiver. Throughout our 235-year history we faced many tough times ranging from war, terrorism attacks and natural disasters. No matter what the adversity, Americans have learned to overcome the impossible. So what motivates a Nation of more than 312 million people to achieve such remarkable feats? In my mind it all stems from "patriotism." An example of this is the display of the American flag at businesses, homes and on vehicles. Old Glory is everywhere. Throughout all my travels, I never observed such patriotism in other countries. Bottom line, we are a proud Nation. While we work through these hard times, we need to focus on the positive, our freedom and the opportunities we have and that others only get to dream about. It's easy to say we live in a great Nation. Several years ago I attended a naturalization ceremony in Salt Lake confirming these thoughts. During the ceremony individuals were given the opportunity to address the audience about why they came to America. There were many compelling stories and one that stood out to me was a man from Herzegovina whose family was murdered as a result of ethnic cleansing during the Bosnian War. The man was very emotional yet simultaneously jubilant that he was now a U.S. citizen. As he described his hardships he revealed that he immigrated to the United States for a better life, one free of persecution. To me, it sure says a lot when an individual travels 5,846 miles for a better life! As you ponder the various positive aspects of living in this great Nation, it's important to focus on how we can make it better. First, be a model citizen and live up to your responsibilities. Support and defend the constitution. Serve your country when required, participate in the democratic process, respect and obey federal, state and local laws, respect the rights, beliefs and opinions of others, and participate in your local community. Second, seek out and purchase goods made in the USA to foster a strong domestic economy. Finally, for those who are fortunate enough to have a job and home during these difficult economic times, reach out and help those in need by donating food, clothing and/or monetary contributions. These responsibilities are not the solutions to solving our economic problems, but it is the means to make us stronger. As proven time and time again, a strong Nation can overcome any challenge. So stay positive, fulfill your responsibilities, and we will strengthen this Nation and prevail.