Sen. Marco Rubio was among the dozens of Republican leaders who addressed a receptive crowd of conservatives during the first day of the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Thursday. The Western Center for Journalism was there as he shared the pride he still has in America despite its many current problems.
“Don’t take for granted what we have,” he urged attendees, noting that “what we have in America is the exception, not the rule, in human history.”
He emphasized the fact that the vast majority of individuals throughout human history have “not been able to choose their leaders … or what they do with their life.”
America is still a land of opportunity for any of its citizens, Rubio said, using himself as an example.
“Anyone from anywhere can accomplish anything,” he said. “That’s something worth fighting for.”
He conceded that “some commentators will roll their eyes and say, ‘That’s what Americans tell themselves,’” but he said he knows it’s true because he’s experienced it firsthand.
Rubio shared a personal story, one which he has “rarely told,” that he said drove home the idea of American exceptionalism in his own life. During his primary campaign against Charlie Crist, he recalled, his father was diagnosed with cancer. Despite his declining health, however, he remained committed to celebrating his son’s political success alongside the soon-to-be senator.
“My dad had not been out of bed for a month and a half,” Rubio said, but “no matter how bad he felt that night he was going to go to my victory party.”
Since that time, he said he has wondered why the event was so important to his father. In the end, he concluded the reason was much more than mere parental pride.
“At nine years of age,” Rubio said of his father, “he had to go to work and worked for 70 years.”
While the elder Rubio’s life was full of hardships, his son said it “gave his life purpose and meaning” to “see us do what he could never do himself.”
In any other nation, that level of opportunity is a foreign concept.
“This country made that possible,” he concluded. “That’s why I know America is special.”
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (Creative Commons)
This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom