Listening to today’s Independence Day guests, great patriots and warriors all, I found myself getting a little choked up. My first reaction was slight embarrassment. Then it dawned on me that this should be the natural response of anyone who holds a deep and abiding love for their country.
Having spent the first nine years of my life overseas incubated my love for the USA in a manner that is hard to shake. The United States was a magical land. One could drink tap water without fear and daily trips to the market were unnecessary. Every home seemed to have a television and a telephone.
I recall neighbors from around our block huddled about a small transistor radio listening to broadcasts of the Gemini Space mission. A five year old child’s mind reeled at the concept of a nation so great it could send men into space while we still unloaded airport baggage with ox carts.
When the leaders of my country of birth spoke, the citizens chuckled and rolled their eyes. When the leaders of the US spoke, people all across the globe listened.
My first hard lesson upon coming to the US was involved language. My brother and I were struggling and a note was sent home from school. My parent’s simple reaction was “Well you will just have to work harder than the other kids won’t you?” There it was; opportunity. The realization that I was in control of my own destiny. The liberty and independence to rise OR fall based upon my willingness to make the extra effort. What a magical country!
My international travels as an adult only reinforced my appreciation for this land of opportunity. If it was up to me, every young person in our nation would be required to spend 30 days overseas so they can learn a true appreciation for what we have and incubate their own sense of responsibility for preserving this special gift so hard won by previous generations.
It breaks my heart when I hear veterans express their fears that the liberties they fought to defend are being allowed to slip away. The message I take from their voices is one of disappointment – and a challenge. As if they are the adults telling that grade school child to work harder.
This morning I read an editorial claiming our battle for independence from Britain was a mistake. I chuckled and rolled my eyes. Then I went out and posted my flag.