I am Guyanese by birth but an American by grace.



For 30 years, I have struggled to love the country of my birth. Why is it so hard to love Guyana? Is it because of the painful memories that I have growing up poor? Is it because of the hurtful and shameful things that are happening there currently?



I can't put my finger on what makes me not love my country. Not loving the country where a person was born is like not loving the person who gave birth to you.



On the other hand, why is it so easy for me to love America? Why is it that I feel so proud to be an American? Why is it that every time I hear the American anthem, I get goose bumps and feel a chill running through my body?
Is it because it has given me a second chance and many more opportunities in life? Is it because it has given me a good education, job, financial security, and a safe place to raise my family?



Why do I love America so much that I am willing to give my life for it? Why is it that I was so willing to go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, to protect and defend this country?



Is it because I know that America has my back and that my family will be will taken care of, if I get injured or killed in combat?



Why is it that I don't feel this way about Guyana? Is this one of the reasons why I love America so much, and I have a difficult time loving Guyana?



I will tell you why I love America so much.



It is because of the people of Bay County, Florida. They showed my family and fellow wounded warriors a lot of love at the Warrior Beach Couple’s Retreat in September. Thank you Warrior Beach Retreat, Bay County, the First Responder.



God bless you and God bless the United States of America.




Anthony Pantlitz is an injured combat veteran who lives in Navarre. He vacationed in Destin last year as part of the Wounded Warrior Beach Couple’s Retreat.