Sunday, July 4, 2010

God Bless the USA

One pretty day in September 2001 I was sitting in my fourth grade classroom. I had a substitute teacher who had yet to show. I wondered vaguely what had happened to her and was imagining all sorts of things when all the sudden she came in, and she was crying. I looked at her, completely baffled. This particular substitute was never very nice. She had yelled a lot and made us miss our real teacher even more. I didn't quite know what to think of her tears but thought it was about time someone got back at her.

She told us that something very bad had happened. We listened as she said that planes had crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City, and the Pentagon, which is very close to where I live. In fact, when I was little, my dad worked at the Pentagon. One other plane aimed for the Capitol had gone down in Virginia, because the passengers realized what was going on and bravely stopped it. I later learned that some of the terrorists involved in this sick act lived in Canterbury, which is literally less than a mile from my home. I have friends that live there.

All throughout the day my classmates were being pulled from class and taken home by their parents. I remember waiting for my own mom to come get me, but it didn't take long for me to realize that that wasn't going to happen anytime soon. Looking back, I am very glad that she didn't. That taught me at a very young age to face conflict on my own, and to not be afraid even when terrible things were happening. My mother was placing her trust in my school and in me, to keep me safe.

I remember going home and seeing my two older sisters, Kelly and Heather, who had no idea what was going on. I bragged that I did and our teachers had told us. But I didn't really know what was going on. I didn't know that the country that allowed little girls like me to go to school, to have sisters and brothers, to wear what I wanted, to pray and eat and do what I wanted, was under attack.

Slowly after that, names like Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Ladin and Saddam Hussein were integrated into daily conversation. I knew that these were bad guys and we must catch them. I knew that they were the people who had planned the attacks on 9/11. Over the years I have learned much more about them and their campaign against this wonderful nation and all that it stands for. But I'm not going to talk about that. I'm going to talk about one of the greatest loves of my life, and that is the United States of America.

I love America. I think it is the best country in the world and I am so lucky to live here. My favorite holidays are the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. In case you didn't notice, two of these holidays are in celebration of our country.

I love the patriots we stood up against King George III and decided that enough was enough! And that they wanted a land that would respect every member and rights and voting and freedom to choose.

I hate it when I say how much I love America and someone has to say, "you know Thomas Jefferson had slaves, right? What do you think of him now?" This makes me mad. And no, not at Thomas Jefferson.

Of course I knew that. I know a lot about America. Knowing that our Founding Fathers were not perfect does not take away from that love. And I hate that people think it might. And it doesn't because I love America.

I love all that America stands for. Sometimes I get really frustrated with the attitude I see much too often as a girl growing up in Maryland. There is an attitude of entitlement, that you should get everything for nothing. What these people do not realize is that freedom is never free. How cliche, right? But it is true. America does not stand for a free-for-all, it stands for hard work and dedication even when there are a million Goliaths and you are one tiny Daniel with only a couple, second-rate stones.

I love every man and woman who has ever served honorably in the armed forces. I think they really define "land of the free and home of the brave." I always always get tears in my eyes when I see soldiers, especially in the airport. I try to go up to them and say thank you, but sometimes I just can't because I know I will turn into a big, blubbery mess. Even as I write this and am just thinking about it I'm getting teary.

There is a group on facebook that is called, "Soldiers are not heroes." I got so mad when I saw that. I joined another (much larger) group that is called, "Petition to remove "Soldiers are not heroes" group from facebook." Because soldiers ARE heroes, and I will tell you why.

Soldiers are willing to risk their lives to save our freedoms. They leave their families, friends, and country behind in order to secure safety and peace of mind for not only us Americans, but those in other countries as well. How I admire these men and women!

I love love lovee the phrase "You may disagree with what I'm doing, but I will fight to the death for your right to say so." I think those who don't support our soldiers are as bogus as rotten cheese and are not fit to live in such a wonderful country. I think that they should all be exiled for six months to live in Afghanistan and then maybe they'll see how good they have it.

I love that as an 18-year old girl I am allowed the right to vote. I cannot wait to have a political voice. Voting is one of the best things about this country.

I love that I have an Asian best friend, as well as German, Italian, Indian, Pakistani and Guatemalan friends. I love that in my veins flows French, British, Dutch, and Native American blood but that I am, whole-heartedly, a red-blooded all-American girl.

I love the 4th of July. I love seeing the fireworks that celebrate this wonderful country. I love apple pie and the America cake my mom makes (white strawberry jello poke cake topped with whipped cream and strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries that make an American flag). And speaking of the flag...

I love our flag! I was so sad about having band 1st period this past year, because that meant that I would almost always miss the Pledge of Allegiance because we would never hear the announcements go on over our playing. I think that people shouldn't be allowed the say the pledge unless they mean it. And what I mean by that is that you should realize that when you break the law selling crack or helping illegal aliens into this country you are not honoring the flag, and you don't deserve its protection.

I love this song that Kelly sang in a show when she was probably four or five. It goes,
There's a feeling comes a-slealing
and it sets my brain a-reeling
When I'm listening to the music of a military band
Red, white, and blue! I am for you!
Honest you're a grand old flag.

You're a grand old flag
you're a high-flying flag
And forever in peace may you wave!
You're an emblem of
the land I love!
The home home of the free and the brave!
Every heart beats true for the red, white and blue
where there's never a boast or brag!
But shall all acquaintance be forgot
Keep your eye on that grand old flag!

I love America songs. I was raised to love this country. I sang America's praises on road trips and on holidays. I had shirts with flags on them and read books about it. There's a song that I will write the lyrics to right now,

I love America, yes I do!
I love America love it true.
I love America it's for me
the home of the brave and the land of the free!

There are so many America songs I adore. Today in church we sang the Star Spangled Banner and of course I cried. I get very emotional when I think of this great nation.

Every time I see the clock strike 9:11 I remember that day in 4th grade. I think I will always remember no matter where I am or what I'm doing. My heart aches for those whose lives were torn apart by that day. One time my family went to New York City and we were able to see Ground Zero. It was a devastatingly sad sight, and sobering. Every September 11th my family lights candles and places them on our porch and I go off by myself and listen to a CD we have that is a newsreel of that day.

This post is not at all the cheerful affair I wish it could be, but I think it is important that we never, ever forget. I was alive for 9/11, but I was not around in 1776 or 1812 or the Civil War or WWI or WWII or the Cold War or Vietnam or the Cuban Missile Crisis. However I know that these conflicts and wars happened and ended in such a way that allows me to write this post on my blog.

I love all those who risked their lives in signing the Declaration of Independence. I love Paul Revere (one of my very favorite historical figures) and George Washington and Abe Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin. I love love lovee John Hancock and his all or nothing attitude and his ginormous signature. When I was little, I said that I would sign my name so small, just in case we didn't win, because then they would never know who I was. Now I know that my John Hancock would be just like its name's sake. I love America, I love our founding fathers and our soldiers, and I love our America songs.

God bless the USA!

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