Years ago, K-Mart opened a Super K not too far from our house. The first time I visited, I was awestruck. I remember standing in the produce section and looking at all the colorful fruits and vegetables. No, that wasn’t the first well-stocked produce section I’d seen, but there was something different that time. I couldn’t help but wonder how I had gotten so lucky to be born in America. I know there are people in some countries who would be stunned at such a variety of fresh food to eat. And, yes, I did take a moment to say “thank you” to the one who made it all happen. I really don’t take many of God’s blessings for granted.
We are so lucky in this country. Do we have our share of problems? Yes. Are we better off than millions of other people? Stupid question. What amazes me is how many people seem to think that America isn’t the best country in the world. They spend all their time bad mouthing the USA. I have one question for them. If we’re so bad, why are so many people willing to die (literally) for a chance at living here?
We seem to go through that every election cycle. We hear (from both sides) how crappy our country is and how only they can make it better. I’ve come to expect that rhetoric and it’s a nice surprise when a candidate talks about how good we are and wants to make us better. To me, that’s smarter than saying we’re all messed up, that we need to trash all our values/beliefs and start over. Really? Have you been to a supermarket lately? Spend a few minutes at an H-E-B produce section and see if you still think we suck.
You must admit it’s comical when someone, normally a celebrity, says if so-and-so wins, they’ll leave the country. We should be so lucky. I’ve volunteered to help them pack, but it always turns out to be an empty threat and we’re stuck with them. Seriously, if it takes something so inconsequential to make you want to leave America, then you shouldn’t be here in the first place. You don’t deserve that privilege. I’m a big fan of the “love it or leave it” philosophy.
Americans take too much for granted. It wasn’t always that way. I have a theory. (Oh, goody. Another theory.) Most of us “old” people were raised by someone who had served in the military. If our parents hadn’t served, they probably had a family member who had. Military members have a deep appreciation for our country. We are proud to serve and learn service above self, love of country, and a work ethic that includes hard work and dedication. Anyone who has served in the military passes that ethos down to their children.
With all the wars—revolutionary, civil, world, Korea, etc., generation after generation grew up serving. Then came Vietnam and eventually the demise of the draft in 1973. That’s almost 50 years since military “DNA” went by the wayside. People aren’t “forced” into serving, so a military philosophy no longer permeates our households. You can see that in some of the younger generation, who think things should be handed to them on a silver platter and not that they should have to work their butts off for everything they get in life. I think we’re all better off when people have a deep appreciation for something bigger than themselves.
I wasn’t a big fan of President Clinton, but he did one very good thing. Through the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993, AmeriCorps came into being. President Kennedy got it right in his inaugural address. “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” If we still had the draft, or some sort of enforced community service, I think we’d all be a lot better off. Not much will humble you more than helping someone who has a quarter of what you do. Not much will make you appreciate what you have, more than seeing someone with nothing.
Ed and I watch HGTV a lot, especially House Hunters and House Hunters International. One thing amazes us. The number of people who move to another country so they can have a “slower” lifestyle. They want to spend more time with their family, relax on a beach, or go scuba diving every day. Have they never heard of Florida? Too busy? Then move to Port Aransas, Texas. On the Gulf of Mexico and if they got any more relaxed there, they’d be asleep. There are hundreds of identical towns all over America. You don’t have to leave our beautiful country to get peace in your life. Peace comes from inside you, not outside.
Since we retired, Ed and I have traveled around the U.S. We’ve managed to knock quite a few places off our bucket list, and if we live to be 200 years old, we’ll never see all that America has to offer. There is one thing I’ve noticed during our travels. I don’t think there is one single town we’ve visited where the people haven’t been welcoming and seem to be glad we stopped by.
When we went to Mt. Rushmore, we went through quite a few small towns and I stopped at a gift shop in one of them. Turned out it was also a Subway and a local hangout. The regulars immediately accosted Ed and insisted on knowing his life story. By the time we left, he had made new friends and I had a beautiful bracelet for our daughter. We had a similar experience every time we stopped.
The people we met on our travels epitomize what America is all about. It’s our people who make us who we are. It’s not the government, the celebrities, the billionaires, or the rowdy protestors who insist America isn’t all that. It’s middle America. The hard-working majority who go about their daily lives, doing what’s right and not expecting anything in return. That’s the America I love.
So, the next time you complain about America, want to burn our flag, protest some perceived inequity, or move to a foreign country because we’re a terrible place to live, remember one thing. The heart and soul of America exists in your neighbor. Stop complaining and start appreciating. Be thankful you were lucky enough to be born in such a great country. And take a moment to thank all those before us who fought so hard for our freedoms. We all know freedom isn’t free, and the less you appreciate the freedoms you have, the more likely you are to lose them. Happy birthday, America!