Today you mark a day which many will never forget. September 11 is a day scarred by the most cowardly act of external violation on your precious soil. Lives were murdered. Fear ran rampant. You were forever changed, but still out of that utter darkness came rays of hope. September 11 is a day, now of service and commemoration, as your people do what they’ve been known to do, and that’s do their best as flawed humans to snatch the good out of the worst situations.
Really, in retrospect, America, that’s been the overriding story of your existence. The worst comes, even if you create it yourself, and inadvertently brings along the best with it. Whether it be from your founding fathers who made the trek across the sea to settle as they fled their version of oppression, to those same founding fathers implementing a terrible, new-fangled form of oppression called slavery, which, in all of its horrificness birthed a people so strong, so proud and so resilient, some good always comes. Whether it be from the earlier wars on your own land and those battles you fought abroad which robbed some of their very lives and others of their civil rights, then simultaneously brought forth life-changing creations, needed innovation, profitable partnerships, strong minority and women leaders, social and civil rights movements and irrevocable change, some good always comes. Even today you struggle with the struggle to be good in the midst of so much badness. Brutality and corruption, mass murders in malls, theaters and on school campuses, heated racial and immigration issues, hunger, faltering education systems, political tomfoolery, homelessness, poverty, a burgeoning identity crisis, and those ever-present “haters” plague you, hurt your people and taint your image, and still good always comes. Your people are benevolent, America. They give. They help. They rally. They challenge. They sacrifice and support. They break down demographically placed barriers to gather together in the midst of dark times. They have the right to freely speak and they do. They worship (if they so choose) at will. They are slowly beginning to develop community across color lines. They spread your love abroad to those in need. (May I also say that your food is delish. Your arts, athletics and entertainment is world-renown, and widely respected and your landscape is a Masterpiece). They are by no stretch of the imagination a perfect people, as you are certainly not a perfect place. I suppose they get it honestly, but they are all you have and for every “wrong one” I see glimpses of more and more “right ones”. The world seems to always take notice of you and yours, in awe, and sometimes in envy, because from Americans, some good always comes.
Many have spoken ill of you, America. I hope this doesn’t hurt your feelings, but it’s not just outsiders. It’s often your own family too. As for me, listen, I get the fact that you’re just a big ol’ mass of land with people dealing (or not dealing) with their own mess. I don’t expect you to be perfect, but I do expect you to always work to be better. I get that in life, as also on this land, it is what it is until we ALL become better. And I’m daring enough to believe that just as you’ve come through so much more you’ll make it through this too, with good coming along for the ride, of course.
Outside of Heaven there’s no place I’d rather be. It would be easy for me to become disgruntled, to take you for granted or to compare you with places I’ve never even been, but I realize I was hand-picked to be here through my long lineage of mostly African, with a hint of European and Jewish ancestors. I am you and you are me, and we’re going to stick this thing out and work these things out until the end. So on today, September 11, 2015, I want to remind you, in case you needed a virtual hug, that I’m with you, America. When I say “God bless America” I mean it. I pray for you and believe the best in you and for you. I “got” your back, and will do my part to keep it straight.
Proud to be an American