Tag Archives: july 4

These United States


The United States of America is 242 years old today. It seems to be in a bit of a cranky stage but those of us who love her hope she will grow out of it someday (soon). It is a spectacular country in about every way you define spectacular. I have now traveled to five continents and have a better frame of reference—enough to recognize that the land of my birth is unique in its global influence.

And I have now spent time in thirty-six of these United States and hope to complete the set someday. I already have remarkable memories.

I stood outside the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Alabama and threw snowballs on the Fourth of July in Alaska. I stood at the Grand Canyon in Arizona and called the Hogs in Arkansas. I watched the sunset in California and ran in the snow in Colorado. I saw a rocket launch in Florida and ate peach cobbler in Georgia. I ran along the Snake River in Idaho and sang Take Me Out to the Ballgame at Wrigley Field in Illinois. I shot hoops at Larry Bird’s restaurant in Indiana and drove by corn fields in Iowa.

I saw the wide open horizon in Kansas and watched horses run behind white fences in Kentucky. I ate beignets in Louisiana and crab cakes in Maryland. I toured the Ford Museum in Michigan and the Mall of America in Minnesota. I saw a hurricane in Mississippi and the Gateway Arch in Missouri. I sang in the capitol rotunda in Nebraska and walked the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada. I drove Route 66 across New Mexico and ran Central Park in New York.

I ate banana pudding in North Carolina and had a VIP tour of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Ohio. I dodged tornadoes in Oklahoma and crossed breathtaking rivers in Pennsylvania. I saw Fort Sumter in South Carolina and the Lorraine Motel in Tennessee. I witnessed Monday Night Football in Texas and the Golden Spike National Monument in Utah. I crossed the Potomac in Virginia and ascended the Space Needle in Washington. I drove up a winding mountain in West Virginia and ate cheese curds in a bar in Wisconsin.

I am ready for more.

This is an incredible country, and I choose to celebrate these United States today. And I choose to do my part in making it better tomorrow.

Born in the U.S.A.


On this American birthday I salute jazz music, barbecue, college sports, the Internet, equal rights, airplanes, Coca-Cola, national parks, interstate highways, blue jeans, bacon cheeseburgers, free speech, pickup trucks, iced beverages, and after a couple of unhappy moments on recent international trips, let us also raise our glass of Pepto Bismol in honor of plentiful supplies of toilet paper.  Sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing!

There is a flip side to the U.S. of A., too, including massive waste, mass incarceration, persistent racism, indebtedness, overconsumption, and reality television, but c’mon, it’s her birthday.

My particular faith evolution has apparently left me less patriotic than many of my fellow Americans.  I choose to live reconciled to all people regardless of national identity and have a particular aversion to any version of an us versus them mentality, which most definitely includes the ugly definition of American exceptionalism.

But this is inescapably my country.  It is where I was born, and it has shaped me in unmistakable ways.  Today, I pause to celebrate the good in it and recommit to fight against the bad in it.

Happy Fourth of July.