We have very similar stories, except I am from Africa, and the bit about the swimming. I agree with you entirely.
I have noticed that people born in the USA take their liberty for granted, and are careless with it. On the other hand, those who have seen oppression (and I have seen the trajectory we are once already) understand the real and present danger we face.
Some of us who were born there do love and cherish our liberty and recognize the many ways in which it is being trampled with impunity. The problem is, we are drowned out by so many who think that professional sports, pop music, consumerism, television, and personal dramas are much higher priority. It's a problem of values and a problem of dehumanization as explained by Erich Fromm.
You absolutely must have a broken people with malleable values and loyalties before you can have a police state. A strong, intact, whole people who are relatively self-sufficient and value ideals far beyond their own convenience cannot be trampled in this manner.