I am proud to be an American. I desperately want to stay proud to be an American. It's easy to be patriotic when you take a nationalistic, "my country right or wrong" attitude. It's also easy just to become cynical and bash America (or organized religion, or hell, even gun control) for all the stupid things we've done. I, however, find myself unable to do either. Instead, I'm trying to reconcile my feelings of patriotism with my understanding that America _has_ done some very bad things in the world for which we have neither apologized nor sought to make right as yet. These things are not excused by the wonderful good deeds that we have also done, nor are they excused by the beautiful ideals which we share as a nation. The idea of a "balance sheet" is irrelevant; until we can point directly back to our ideals to justify every action we take, we will still be seen as arrogant hypocrites in the rest of the world. Not unreasonably.
Lest some of you think this is unrealistic or naive: I don't think these changes are going to happen overnight, or even over the next few years. I think it's going to take another generation or two before this kind of policy becomes real in America. But if we don't start fighting for it now, it'll never happen at all.