America the Beautiful

For our anniversary in June, Hubby and I spent the day in Baltimore, a city which is close to my heart because it is the first place we went when we began really exploring the world together.

We stopped in a little shop in Hampden which we always try to go to when we’re in the area. They sell funky jewelry and local art, and their upstairs is filled with second hand furniture from the 60s and 70s. Walking up there is like stepping into a time machine.

I could find something to buy for myself in a men’s clothing store, so it was no small wonder I found an adorable pair of earrings of bird’s claws danging from hooks.

While we were waiting to check out, another man was on his way out of the store, chatting with the associate near the door who had, at least to me, an easily identifiable accent.

“Are you from Australia? Or, where exactly is it you’re from,” he asked in an awkward and brusque manner.

“England,” the woman said with a polite smile, though I’m certain she had a few choice words passing through her mind.

“Oh, sorry you had to come here to America,” he said with a laugh.

The pause between his saying, “Nah, I’m just kidding” and this statement was too long for me to think he actually was kidding.

I am not quick witted enough to have said something to put this guy in his place, nor would this have ultimately been my desire. Because he lives in America, he has the freedom to say something like this, whether or not it stems from a lack of education or an obnoxious spirit, and whether or not it offends me.

I also have the freedom to shoot him a dirty look, which I did, as way of putting him in check.

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The more I study the Italian language and learn the Italian culture, the greater my fondness grows for my own country. At the suggestion of becoming a dual citizen with Italy, my gut instinct was, absolutely not. I love Italy, some of my ancestors are from Italy, but I am, and will always be, American.

My sentiment is best represented with these words from The Lay of the Last Minstrel by Sir Walter Scott:

This is my home, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d,
As home his footsteps he hath turn’d,
From wandering on a foreign strand!

I think that man took for granted the struggles he didn’t have to face by being born in America. The freedoms he didn’t have to covet. Our home has flaws, but what home doesn’t? Instead of focusing on the flaws, shouldn’t we remind ourselves of all the good we have? On just how easy we have it when we compare ourselves to other places in this vast world of ours? And perhaps, a reflection of our history might remind us why, regardless of what party we support or issues we stand for, America is and will continue to be our home, and a beautiful one at that.

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America the Beautiful (1911 version)
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Happy Fourth of July!

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