Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Happy Birthday, USofA
The USofA is a remarkable place.
We are a contentious collection of disparate individuals. We live in the Deep South and the frozen tundra. We sport a variety of skin tones and accents. Some of our ancestors have been here before the European Conquest and some have never seen our shores. We pray to one God and many gods and no god at all. We drawl and we chatter. We are Americans.
Conservative and radical, relaxed and intense, we sit beside one another on an airplane, crossing the Mississippi and the Rockies, and we wonder if we’ll see any fireworks from our perch several miles high. It’s our country’s birthday and we are all, each and every one of us, in a celebratory mood.
There are children wearing red white and blue. There are adults sporting flag t-shirts. There is a collection of patriotic headgear on this flight that would make the buyer for Target proud. We are preparing for our nation’s birthday party and we’re wearing great big grins.
Politicians are shooting darts at one another over golf and jet skis and Jackson Hole vacations but that all seems unimportant up here. Counting the states as the pilot aims our craft toward Tucson, my mind conjures up images of picnics and sparklers. We are above it but a part of it nonetheless.
We have a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court who was able to put partisan politics aside and craft a document which insured that I will have health insurance even though Blue Cross/Blue Shield spent much more money on my care than they would have preferred.
There is a group of wealthy families, friends of Nathax in her hometown of Glencoe, who have committed to provide the funding for a charter school far on the south side of Chicago because they want those high schoolers to have the same opportunities as their own, more privileged children enjoy.
Wheelchairs of all shapes and sizes passed me in the hallways of the Rehabilitation Institute this afternoon, carrying humans of every description to and from outstanding medical care, offered at little or no cost if the patient cannot pay.
Two little ones are traveling alone to spend a month with Grandma while Mom stays home and works. They will see the sites of the West - Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon among them. The stewardess settled them in, and the Asian grandma in the third seat in their row is taking particular care to insure that they are happy and secure. She didn’t know them before she boarded; she’s looking after them as if they were her own.
There is no sense of the other. We are all in this America business together, black and white and tan and old and young and in-between. It’s not an easy row to hoe, but we’re convinced that it is worth the effort.
That may well be my own personal fantasy, but I don’t care. It’s amusing me to imagine that, for these next few hours, I’m traveling with my fellow countrymen as we head toward celebrating the birthday of our nation.
I wish you all a joyous Fourth of July, filled with appreciation for the wonder that is our United States. TBG and I will be hanging out the flag and barbequing and feeling extremely grateful to be able to call ourselves Americans.