Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What America Means to Me

As I get older...journaling in my scrapbooks has become exponentially more important. That really hit home for me not too long ago when I was working on our wedding album (we got married seven years ago - do not mock me for being behind! ;)) and as I was organizing the photos I realized that I had already forgotten many of the special details that made our day so incredible. If I can't remember things about one of the most spectacular days of my life...how am I going to remember the everyday moments that bring me joy, make me think, or break my heart?

With that - and with the approach of July 4th - I have been inspired to share my feelings about this country on a few pages in my scrapbook. No matter what your feelings about the war, the current administration or the state of our economy - this country is ours to cherish, and I hope you will take a few moments over this weekend of parades and fireworks and backyard BBQs to jot down a few feelings of your own.

Wishing you a safe and happy 4th of July!!

I grew up in the Washington DC area. I rarely visited any of the monuments or went to the museums unless we had company from out of town. Our family went to the Independence Day and Memorial Day concerts on the mall every year. We wore our red, white and blue outfits. We sang patriotic songs. Our church always prayed for our nation's leaders and military people serving overseas. I had friends whose dads worked at the Pentagon or in some other branch of government. That was what America meant to me.

Then I moved to the South and started working in a job that put me in close contact with members of the military. My roommate was military, my boyfriend was military, all of my friends wore this country's uniform proudly. I dutifully sent them care packages when they were gone. I watered their plants. I picked them up in the middle of the night when they came home. We never talked about where they were, or what they were doing, or what it meant. My political views started to change a little. I became more interested in the news. I supported my friends and began to understand a little bit about military life. That was what America meant to me.

Then I met my husband. We moved to Hawaii. In August 2001 he left for Ranger School. We had no contact for three months. On September 11, 2001 our world changed forever. I sat on my couch for two days and wept. I prayed for the families of those who had been killed. I donated money to a fund for New York City firefighters and police officers. I put up an American flag in our window. I waited anxiously for my husband to come home to me - knowing that it wouldn't be for long. That we were at war. That was what America meant to me.

I have sent my husband off to war five times since we've been married. I have received hundreds of cards from school children to send to his men because they would be far away from home at Christmas. I have prayed every night to just see his face or hear his voice one more time. I have walked to the other side of the street when I have seen protestors downtown. I have shipped care packages from men and women at a Senior Center who wanted to do something for the troops. I have argued with people I love about the need for this war. I have received emails from strangers thanking me for my sacrifice and my husband for his bravery. I have wept at the feeling of his arms around me after so many months of being apart. I have taken photographs of yellow ribbons all over town. I have held my husband as we mourned the loss of his soldiers and friends. I have thanked God that I live in a country where I am free - where we are all free - to do and say feel all of these things without fear. THAT is what America means to me.

1 comment:

ddinak said...

Wow Beth! You have summerized your feelings so well. Blessings,


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