Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Independence Day

A reflection on being an American...

I remember the first time I realized America wasn't the center of the universe. I was 16 years old and overseas for the first time. I was in Moscow, as things were opening up, just before communism fell. I was sitting with a new Russian friend named Helen. She was telling me about what her country meant to her--how proud she was to be a Russian. 

I, frankly, couldn't believe it! Russia was a country with bread lines and depressingly unaesthetic communist bloc housing. But then I realized that government had nothing to do with it. It was a cultural pride, a pride in the land and its people and traditions. The Russian people were some of the most hospitable, welcoming and generous I've ever met. A veil was lifted from my eyes that day, and I was cured of my cultural myopia. 

Traveling has definitely opened my eyes to the world, to people and to other cultures--some of my dearest friends live in Spain and Germany. Conversely, exposure to other cultures has opened my eyes to my own. 

In Russia, I learned that while America isn't the center of the universe, we are a country with many privileges, and ones that I should not take for granted. In Spain, I learned that while we many not stop to take a siesta, we are efficient and a people who get things done. In Germany, I learned that we may not have centuries-old architecture, but we, as a people, have a young, pioneering spirit.

I am proud to be an American, but more than that, I am thankful to be an American. This is the land of opportunity--a land where I could move to Hollywood to pursue my own American dream of acting! This is a place where I am free to express myself--I can write whatever I want to on this blog, and that right is protected. This is a country where I am free to choose my religious beliefs--I can worship Jesus without fear of going to prison. These are my rights and privileges as an American. While I adore traveling to other countries, the United States of America is the country I'm proud to call home.


C said...

What a truly wonderful post, Starshine! I know this may sound silly, but I often wondered what it would be like to be American. All of my American friends and my family in the States are so proud to be American and that is something I always wondered what would feel like. Not that I'm not proud to be Canadian, because I am. But, there's a difference that I just can't pinpoint.

Happy 4th to you and your family. Have a great time celebrating! xo

J at said...

I always remember a quote from a TV show, Thirtysomething, when one of the characters said "God Bless America, but doesn't He bless all of the other countries, too?"

Your post made me think of that quote. :) We are all of us blessed in different ways.


Piú giú in fondo alla Tuscolana...!?....passavo per un saluto!

stephanie (bad mom) said...

Beautifully said - I should have your words accompany my pictures of the 4th!

Thanks for visiting my blog; glad you liked my stint at Derfward Manor.

BTW, LOVE your slideshow :D