I love the United States of America. We live in a great country. I am not objective about our nation any more than I am objective about my mother and dad. I have visited other countries, and each has assets and liabilities, as does ours. But I wouldn’t trade my country for anybody else’s any more than I would trade my family for your family. I am a loyal and faithful American. I vote. I serve as a Poll Manager. I serve on juries without complaining when I am asked to do so. I pay taxes and am glad to do so. I enjoy the benefits of being an American and do not resent the price of being a dues paying citizen.
There are only about a half-dozen states I have not visited, including Hawaii and Alaska. The others are in the Northwest. I hope to remedy those travel deficiencies within the next few years. I have been to all the others. What’s not to like about our diversity? People who want everyone else to be like them, to think like they think, to act like they act, are sad, even tragic, individuals, limited emotionally, intellectually and patriotically. We are enriched by variety.
This may be the dumbest sentence you have ever read, but here it is: I already know what I already know. I know grits and collard greens and the South Carolina coast. But there is a huge world out there I do not know.
The first time I saw the rocky California coast, I marveled at its beauty, very different from our extensive sandy Southern beaches.
The first time I ate fresh raspberries in Idaho, I thought I had never tasted anything so good. South Carolina is too hot to grow raspberries.
From Fenway Park to Bourbon Street to the St. Louis Arch to Alcatraz Island, America is bursting with variety and personality. There are lessons to be learned at the Alamo, and there are lessons to be learned at Wounded Knee and there are lessons to be learned at Gettysburg. I have been to each of these places and am humbled by these iconic symbols of the growth of our nation, shrines to human folly and to human courage.
I am sure you have been to events at Disneyworld or at your church where someone has all of those who have served in our U.S. armed forces to stand and be recognized. It is a humbling act and we are all grateful for the service of dedicated soldiers and sailors.
After 9/11, there was a sudden appreciation for fire fighters and police officers. Would they please stand, also?
After the massacre at Stony Hook Elementary School where 26 students and teachers were slaughtered, we experienced an outpouring of appreciation for the heroism of schoolteachers. Would they please stand, too, so we can honor them?
What I keep wondering is when we will have all the other folks stand who are faithful, loyal, and patriotic Americans, who, for example, risk their money and their time to open a small business or a non-profit organization? What about those who work for a big business, a steel company, and show up at work faithfully for forty years, pay their taxes, go to church, and serve on a committee to make their community a better place? Would they please stand?
I want the Democrats and the Republicans to stand! I want the Independents and the Green Party and the Libertarians to stand! I want black and white and Hispanic and Native American and Asian American and every other shade of color within these 50 great states to stand.
I want to honor as Americans those who eat lobster and those who eat crayfish. I want to honor those who eat grits, those who eat tamales, those who eat Challah bread, and those who eat fried Snicker bars at the state fair.
Do not put restrictions on what it means to be an American.
Let Freedom Ring for everyone!
Columbia, South Carolina
July 4, 2013