Do you remember as a kid having an argument with a sibling or a friend and when they tried to stop you from doing something you responded: Hey, it’s a free country! Those words, if we truly examine them, are incredible words that even as children we so took for granted. Because yes, we were living in a free country and most of us could roam our neighborhoods or fields and vacant lots with impunity–a gift we took for granted. It’s just one of the reasons why I LOVE AMERICA.
Today, as adults, our freedoms still exist, though for some there are challenges. But because we are celebrating the 240th birthday of the United States of America, I wanted to list some things about my country that I love. (And a nod to TIME MAGAZINE who did the exact same thing in this weeks issue.)
There is not a particular order to my list, except that when creating it, I started from childhood and then moved on.
- Vaccines. I love that as a child my pediatrician provided me with the vaccines which were available at the time.The MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) was NOT available, and so I had to experience all of those illnesses and they can be dangerous. But because polio raced through the country affecting many children with death and paralysis, a vaccine was created and was immediately made available to me and my brothers. Anti-vaccinators today need to realize what a relief it was for my mother to know her children were protected.
- Backyards, sidewalks and porches. Growing up, we spent most of our playtime outside. In any weather. Imagination fueled that play. We didn’t need any expensive equipment to keep occupied. A white dish towel provided me with a cape–so that I could be Snow White. My brother and I played Davy Crockett and shared one coon-skin cap that a generous relative provided. WE MADE STUFF UP–it was and should still be the American way.
- Public transportation and my bike. If we weren’t walking half miles or more to get to the candy store, the park, a friend’s house–we took the 103rd Street bus and transferred to get to the beach. We had a pocketful of quarters to get us there. Or we often biked–no helmet in those days. And summer jobs? The Rock Island Train was always my ticket to downtown Chicago where I worked in the file department of an insurance agency through some of high school and all of college. Now living in California, I wish public transportation was more easily accessible. The state is working on it.
- The opportunities for single woman. My mother was widowed with three children, yet forged an opportunity to care for us and work and pay the bills. It got easier as the years went on and women were given more power in the workplace. My two single aunts both had Master’s Degrees and thus acquired excellent jobs in publishing that allowed them to golf and travel abroad. In some countries, my life would have been buried in poverty without a father, a male in the household.
- Public education. Though I attended private schools, I became a teacher and fell in love with public education. The soft landings in my life did not apply to many children in the high school where I taught, so being a part of that experience made me value what good teachers and administrators and school boards can do to help an entire community and it’s future workers, parents and children.
- Advancing medical science and research. This American gift has profoundly affected my life. Good medical care (and for much of my adulthood that meant HMO’s and PPO’s through my husband’s employment) allowed me to have healthy children, experience the birthing and newborn care of those children in a fully staffed and well run hospital. It has also meant access to advances in the care of cancer and is the reason my husband is still alive today. Thank you medical research and dedicated doctors and nurses of all persuasions who contribute daily to LIFE.
- Taxes. Many people complain about paying taxes and often try to get around the system to limit what they have to pay. Bottom line: what if you had a fire in your home and when the firemen arrived they tried to limit the expertise to put out that fire–they tried to pull back and not provide you with all their capabilities. We live in a country where every day public servants deliver our mail, work to keep our cities safe and in California are ready to use any means possible to stop a raging fire that can destroy neighborhoods in an instant. I’m willing to pay my taxes to insure that safety.
- The power of voting. I have a say in determining a way of life fro me and my family. Millions on this planet have no say.
For sure, this is a very short list. But it might get you thinking about the things that you appreciate about being an American, the reason you are willing to blot out all the chatter, the voices that have nothing positive to say, who fail to acknowledge anything worthwhile that we as a people have built and can continue to build on.
Our forefathers and mothers insured that we would have the freedoms that we live with today. Let’s celebrate that. And let’s be aware that these freedoms belong to every American. Happy Fourth of July. And don’t forget to vote.
IT’S A FREE COUNTRY!
Photo Credit: ministrytochildren.com