Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day


Why do I love America?

I'm climbing up on my soapbox again, so be patient with me.  America comes with lots of struggles and warts and things that, as a proud American, I not very proud that we have been a party to.  Having said that I know for sure I'm American not only by birth but in the true spirit of the idea.  I love being able to say what I feel.  I love being able to hang out with whomever I want to, whenever I want to and, for the large part, wherever I choose.


In the grand scheme of the world as it exists, America has done many things "right", not always in a timely fashion, but eventually right.  I feel we have to remember that America is at its essence only an IDEA.  Freedom of speech is an idea, unheard of prior to the Bill of Rights, even in ancient Greece only certain members of the society had the right to speak about what they wished at will.  Equality is an idea born and fought for only in America. True, we are not there yet, but we keep trying.  Other nations give lip service to equality, but even the "evolved" British and French still have heavy class systems.  Free assembly was an idea that became tangible in America.  The YouTube video of the tragic murder of a young Iranian female student last year is graphic evidence of where MUCH of the world stands on free assembly.  And yes all these ideas have been defended by the most unseemly of cases to the Supreme Court, but those are exactly the cases that make sure our most rational expressions are protected.  It is the extremes that protect the middle.  This would not happen elsewhere.


Okay, is she talking out of her a**?  I'll give you my background and you decide.  I discovered just how American I was when we lived on Okinawa (now Japan) in the 60's. Okinawa is a gorgeous island, lush and tropical with amazing people. I was a young, impressionable teenager.  We lived on an Army base so I was surrounded by the sheer might and force that America can be (and which I'm sad about many times).  You have never seen an Independence Day celebration unless you are on a military base in a foreign country.  We Americans can get a little garish, but I digress.  The school I attended was a former WWII Japanese POW camp used to house Allied prisoners of war.  It was a series of quonset huts surrounded by a 20 ft chain link fence.  The local Okinawans had not been happy for quite some time about the American military presence, especially the servicing of B-52 bombers and wounded service personnel from Viet Nam.  One day all the students were lead into the old airplane hangar that was our gym and told that they didn't know when we would be let out from school as the buses couldn't get in due to protesters who had surrounded the school.  They had surrounded our school to drive home the fact that they thought more young Americans were being trained to occupy their island, which they opposed (even though the local economy was heavily funded by American dollars).  That is when I KNEW I was an American, because someone saw us, me, as the symbol of American power. Pretty heady stuff for a 14 year old.


I live in El Paso, Texas now (check out Google or Yahoo maps and what I'm about to say will become very clear).  Everyday people who are trying to escape desperate poverty, social inadequacies, political oppression and, now, a cruel, senseless drug war face a 30 foot wrought iron fence telling them, "Nope, can't come in, but you are soooo close."  Of course people still make it through surviving obstacles that would make many of us horrified.  By a happy accident of birth I'm allowed all the privileges of America.  Does America owe the world what it has? I don't know but we sure have something that everyone wants:  the IDEA of OPPORTUNITY.  The idea of it, not the actuality of it, just the idea.  And for all the bad we have done, our good has made up for many evils around the world.  I know, because everyday I see people dying to get a chance at our ideals.  And make no mistake, despite the hate speech from some fanatics, the people of the world, one on one, love us.

So, I love America, warts and all!  No tattered flags waving here, the IDEA of America is strong in my heart!

God bless you all and God bless America, on this, her day!

(May the wars end soon and may the borders be safe but free)

Peace and love to all.


Lanyardlady said...

Fantastic post! You captured all the things I feel but can't express. Thanks for driving home the meaning of Independence Day!

Cathryn said...

This is perfect Elizabeth! I also thank you for being brave enough to post such controversial ideas *grins* on your blog. Many people have missed that very meaning of what America and being an American means. I'm a military brat as well and know exactly what you mean!

This is wonderfully written and you said exactly what I've been trying to get across for years.

Pretty Things said...

The great thing about America is you can have opinions!!!! I think that's the awesomest.

Elizabeth said...

Hey all: Thank you for your comments. It is nice to be supported!