Monday, May 2, 2011

Why I'm Proud to be an American

Slick Nick hates that I do this but I admit that I plan some of my Facebook Statuses (stati?) in advance. Some are completely top of my head but others are mentally concocted and then saved for certain occasions. Sometimes it's a hybrid of the two where I think what should my status be in the morning the way people choose their loafers or sport coats.

Last night D-Hanse was driving me home from a great dinner I had with he and his family. As we drove from Mission Gorge to Paradise Hills, my phone started buzzing in my shirt pocket but I ignored it while chatting with Dan and simultaneously thinking about the next day's Status. (Yes, I capitalize it.) Should I write about enjoying pizza with him and his wife Jenny, plus their baby and in-laws? Or maybe that I liked the Chargers draft and how they loaded up on defense and special teams?

I was still ruminating on this, seriously, when I walked inside and Mama ruined my concentration with, "Deed ju hear de nooz?"

"What news?" I deadpanned, "another royal get married?"

"No," she responded, "they got him. Bin Laden."

I froze and as my eyes swung to my nearby Sony flat-screen, my mouth dropped open. I was stunned.

For the next three hours I devoured all news concerning President Obama's ordered attack, and execution thereof, Usama Bin Laden. I couldn't get enough of it - the crowds cheering wildly, the explanations of military strategy, Obama's speech in the East Wing.

And suddenly, perhaps as a cumulative effect, tears started welling up. Then when they showed footage of the Twin Towers burning on 9/11...psssht...tears streaking down my cheeks.

For me, that's what this is all about. You see, terrorism itself didn't die with Bin Laden. The world is still full of dangerous people that hate the United States. I know that.

But when he was alive it was like a bad scar, a constant reminder of two things: the worst attack ever on American soil and our inability for ten years to capture the mastermind of that bloodshed.

And when he orchestrated the attacks on New York, and D.C., and Pennyslvania, those weren't faraway East Coast cities to me. They were in MY land, MY country, against MY fellow countrymen. I didn't lose any family or close friends (I did know a couple people loosely through college actually) but when UBL punched America, he punched me.

I'm not a vengeful type. I'm not a violent person. I have family and friends in the military but, truthfully, I hate war.  But I am an American.

And let me tell you what America means to me. It means that a boy from Colombia could be told in his home country, we're sorry, but because you are a triple amputee there's just not much we can do for you here. And America says, move here - we're not perfect or have all the answers. We have flaws; our society still caters to the rich; we have prejudices; we have inequities. But more than anything we have freedom; we have opportunity; we have a system where if you work hard with absolute determination, you can be anything you wanna be, brother.

That's what America has always told me. You're missing three limbs? We have organizations that will provide you free prosthetics. You want to go to school and learn? Step right in. You want to go to college? You can do that. You want to be an actor, a public speaker, a baseball executive, an author? Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

There are unjust people in this country, as there are in every country. I've always joked that "government intelligence" is an oxymoron. And how is it that Donald Trump gets away with that hair and mouth?

It's not a perfect country. But it is a country where you can choose any path you desire. If you're willing to work hard, push yourself, make some sacrifices, and give it your all, you can go to any school you want. You can pursue any career you want.

Furthermore, Americans are always talking about and demonstrating acts of kindness, generosity, and service. America helps more than any other country. America teaches its children to be prepared for the future.

You want to have fun? Have fun. You want to engage in serious activities? You can do that too. Like the rap group Black Sheep said in a 1992 song since appropriated by a car commercial: "You can get with this / or you can get with that. / The choice is yours."

It doesn't matter your ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, political or religious view, or physical state of being. Here, whatever you want to be, you may be.

It is a land of endless opportunity and overall peacefulness, and Bin Laden attacked that. But guess what? It's also a land of strength and although retaliation is not our preferred route, you punch us and we'll torch you. UBL clobbered us in 2001 and it took us a long time, but we are nothing if not persistent.

No, it's not a perfect country. But it's the greatest country and has been my country of citizenship since 2004. It's a country that said yes to me so I'll always say yes to it. It will outlast terrorism and terrorists. Because it is unified, strong, resolute, humbled by God, and is forever a beacon in the night. God bless the USA, baby.


  1. Do you want to have fun? Heck yes I do! And when you quote songs from 1992 you sound old, haha.

  2. This brought tears to my eyes. You have always had a way with words.
    Now I have to go look up that song, I can't quite find the tune in my head.

  3. Alex, you are ever amazing! I<3 you, your insight, and your ability to remind us all of what's real. I miss you, hun! Thank you for your beautiful words. I too am proud to be an American!