One path on an uncommon journey

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Land That I Love

Anyone who knows me knows my love for this country. For all of it's faults, it is still the greatest place to be. I am proud to be an American every day and I thank our troops for protecting us, letting us enjoy everyday life and allowing our country to flourish.

Reflecting today there are a number of events that epitomize America, the American way and life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Sometimes we forget our country was actually founded on those principles and, even though they were made by predominately white, Catholic older men, the principles are still relevant today. Our country has changed, morphed and adapted to keep those principles pertinent. As Marv Levy used to say "Where else would you rather be than right here, right now?"

Reflecting today has a few events that are important to me, for one reason or another. They are random snippets of time, but tied together for me.

The first event is the horrific day of 09/11/2001. Although it was a terrible, black day in American history, it brought out the best in so many. Dawn and I had just returned home from Hawaii the day before and I watched the events  unfold live. I cried for two weeks straight watching the pain, the fear and the uncertainty. We were robbed of our innocence, our safety, our comfort.

But then something else happened, we rebounded. Hero after hero emerged. They still are. People showed the best Americans have- resolve, creativity, dedication and strength. We had taken the best punch that the worst of the world could throw and got up after a standing eight count. It was a glitch, a slip. I have never been prouder to be a New Yorker, even more so an American. To this day we are a little more careful, but a lot smarter.

The next event was the election of Barack Hussein Obama on November 4, 2008, important in so many ways. By electing President Obama it gave the USA the world back. It was as if all was forgiven and the world believed in us again. More importantly, it gave every minority kid and every female the belief that they too could become President. It was real and it was doable.

Yet when I went to work the next day I was disappointed at the reaction to the election. Many workers were upset, reactions ranged from they were moving to Canada, to racial slurs. I felt alienated. Others were elated and said he was 'their' President. I felt alienated.

I voted for President Obama because I believed, and still do, that he was the best candidate. I did not vote for him based on race, gender or age. I mention age because that was the knock on Senator McCain. Oh, and he has been healthy for those doubters. Even so, still a very proud moment for America.

Another event that stands out is the Muslim mosque/NYC debate of a few years ago. Now I know this is touchy, simply put - isn't that another principle America was built on? Escape from religious persecution?

Do I think it was in poor taste? Yes. Do I think the mosque could be better placed elsewhere, yes. Do I think we had the right to bully them into a change of mind, no. This was a place of worship that also offers an exercise facility, educational facilities and much more.

Look, there are religious zealots everywhere. Every Holy book has it's own interpretation, the Bible, the Quran, the Torah. It's the people who interpret it, not the religion. Although it was one man to many, it is no different than when that nut shot Dr. Slepian, a OBGYN who performed abortions, years ago. 

It is not OK to kill in the name of God and no one can convince me that there is any interpretation in any Holy Book that says otherwise. These are good people with good intentions. Admittedly, they say their biggest mistake was to not include the families of 9/11 from the beginning. Ours would have been to force them to cease their plans. The Mosque opened on 09/22/2011. Another pretty proud day.

The final event is very recent- Anderson Cooper announcing he is gay. Now I didn't see it, haven't read about, only heard about it. But this is one respected news guy and a damned good one at that. He is loved by the world and has earned his respect when he could have bought it.

Perhaps this will shed some light on this subject. Perhaps this will make being gay a bit more 'human' to some. Perhaps this will make it 'OK' to be gay.

Oh, Hell. Strike the perhaps. We are Americans and we are better than this. We will be proud of the reaction and proud of Anderson Cooper. Another proud day! Happy 4th!

And finally a quote from the movie The American President:

"America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You've gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say, "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours." You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms.
Then you can stand up and sing about the land of the free."