It sounds so corny when I say it out loud, quite honestly. “I love the United States of America.” The reflection in the mirror I half-expect to see as I walk past as I speak these words is my rotund countenance draped in stars and stripes. That’s how silly it sounds to me to say it… at first.
Then, as I mull the phrase over in my head, I contemplate a few things that soften my attitude about this compilation of words.
First, I think about my Dad. (I always capitalize the word, “Dad,” when I refer to my father, whether it’s grammatically correct or not). My father fought in World War II. He was a decorated Pharmacist Mate. He served in both the Mediterranean and Asian theaters. He was a hero. Although he rarely spoke about his time in the Navy, I was always in awe that he fought the enemy and through his efforts, helped win the war. He fought for the freedoms that I have today. He, along with all the men and women who so valiantly served our country over the last two hundred-plus years, made a difference to us. I never forget that. I suppose that’s why, when I hear the National Anthem, I still get choked up. It happens every single time.
Second, I wonder where else on Earth I could walk down the street with the fearlessness I do. As a gay man, a Latino man, an older man, a man of lower-moderate socio-economic status, I am greeted warmly, loved openly, and respected for who I am, with all the diversity I embody. There are laws that protect me. I am, relatively speaking, safe.
Third, I can write to the President of the United States of America and say exactly what is on my mind. Because I have no desire to threaten anyone, I’m secure in the knowledge that my words count just as much as anyone else’s. It’s a sweet knowledge I carry inside my heart about my place here in the good ole U.S. of A.
I get angry, sometimes, at our legislators and our judges. I am often frustrated by our media services. The cost of things is abominable and the challenges to acquire health care for many is untenable. “Skinny people are too thin. Fat people are too fat.” Everyone has an opinion about everything.
We are, thankfully, able to express our opinions as freely as we belch. Unfortunately, some of our opinions are worth about the same thing. At least, we are able to send our thoughts out as easily as we throw a frisbee at a Fourth of July picnic.
We have had presidents, from Washington to Obama, that are nearly as diverse in thought and history as those of us in our neighborhoods. There were builders, deceivers, heroes and scoundrals, activitists and do-nothings. They were Americans.
Today, on this Fourth of July, 2009, I am not a hyphenate-American. I am simply, joyfully, and proudly an American.
So, as corny as it may sound, I will reiterate my feeling that I love the United States of America. God (or whomever you choose to believe in, if anyone) bless America!