Thursday, July 16, 2009
Land That I Love
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
These words ignite emotions of pride as we approach the holiday weekend ahead. I am reminded of the various experiences that I have locked in my memory, all in the name of free will. I have traveled to the four corners of America and have worked several jobs. I attend the church of my choice, count as one vote during elections and am a year away from earning my degree. Thanks to the liberties declared during the foundation of our nation, that so many have honorably served to enforce and protect, I am able to enjoy such an experience as an internship, and all that it entails. I so deeply appreciate all that is available to me because of the many sacrifices others have made throughout the generations.
I had the opportunity to attend a community-supported patriotic concert last weekend. The event was organized to pay tribute to the fallen soldiers of Iowa. I was touched, as always, by the support of the community. Rows of people dressed in summer dresses, shorts, hats and patriotic attire spread blankets and lawn chairs on the grass before a stage as an all-male quartet began to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Flags lining the side of the audience, each representing a fallen soldier, stood erect in the wind.
In front of me, two children drew sticks in the dirt to keep occupied during the performance. The young girl tip-toed barefoot in the dirt, while her older brother gathered dirt into a pile he formed with his bare hands. Beside me, an elderly gentleman stood to be recognized as a World War II veteran while the band played the anthem for his branch of the military. He stood beside me clapping his hands to the beat of the music. I thought about the war he fought, the long life he has lived, the many experiences he has faced and the people he has been in contact with throughout the course of his life. And somehow that day, he shared something in common with the two children who played there in front of us. Their lives have barely begun and they have yet to leave a mark on this world. Yet I recognized a single similarity in three dissimilar individuals: Their heritage, their freedom, their privilege of living in America.