My American story started when I was in first grade singing “My Country Tis of Thee.” My teacher explained to us what the words meant. I believed her. This was my country. “Sweet land of liberty...” We were on Our land where we could live according to Our desires. “...of thee I sing.” We sang in praise, like at church. “Land where my fathers died,” My hard-working Swedish grandparents immigrated here. “Land of the pilgrims’ pride,” Puritan pilgrims helped to start this country. They were proud of their accomplishments in their struggle to survive. “From every mountainside,” from every mountain, plain and valley, “let freedom ring.” We heard the Liberty Bell ring for our hard-earned freedom. Later in my life, after learning more history, these ideals tarnished. Patriotic rituals’ purposes changed with my understanding.