flags flapping in the wind, algiers

Dear ‘Merica,

Happy birthday to you! I know there are plenty of folks — both your family and those who live on other shores — who will say you’ve grown a bit old. Fat. Stagnant. Angry. (Violent, really.) But let’s just put that all aside for today. I mean, who wants to hear you are a giant bully on your birthday?

Not me. And I’m guessing not you, lovely lady.

Look, I fully recognize you’ve got some issues. You aren’t the best at budgeting. Voting systems. Factual nutrition advice for your citizens. Funding public health. But hey! We all have issues. And this birthday, I’d like to thank you for all that makes you great:

1. Purple mountains majesty. I know. I know. You don’t like hearing the words “majesty.” Reminds you of your birth mom and all. I get it. That said, dear runaway, I appreciate your scenery more than ever. Last week I sat at an alpine lake and watched as the surface turned to diamonds. Silver fish were in a frenzy, sending sparkles across the waves. With bright blue skies above, apple green aspens swaying in the wind nearby and wildflowers in every shade lining the shore — I realize how truly lucky I am to live here. Seas, forests, deserts and the plains — you are one varied beauty.

2. The system. While you are most criticized for a system that doesn’t work, the one thing I miss most about you when traveling is that having a system is inherent to our nation. Whether it is people actually following driving laws, or standing in a queue, or paying taxes — for the most part, we participate. Such systems and democracy make you great.

3. The opportunity. My friends in Mexico, the ones I studied with 17 years ago, most of whom are far smarter and more ambitious than I am, are scattered across the world working odd jobs. Their country is in upheaval and there is no work for the educated middle class. And so, the lucky ones have escaped the land they so love to create families in a place that’s safe.

I am so very, very lucky America, that with all of your flaws — you still provide me the very best place in the world to make something of myself. In fact, you’ve not only helped me with education (thanks Pell grants and state universities!) but you’ve also helped paved the way for a solid career.

4. The voice. When I read stories about the media being sensored — whether in Israel or China — it makes me sick. I’ve taken for granted so many of my liberties as an American.

5. The volunteers. What an incredible citizenry we have! Whether its those on the front lines for those who protect and serve, or those in the Peace Corps hanging mosquito nets — you have been built by a group of people who fundamentally believe in the greatness this country.

6. The critics. For every Marine on that front line, there is an activist trying to bring him home. I am so glad you are made of a people who are never satisfied. If nothing else, it keeps things interesting.

7. The faith. Perhaps most importantly, I am thankful that I can practice my faith openly.

So, thank’s big lady. For a President I love. For healthcare for all. For another great year!



p.s. Let’s do something about the environment, yeah? And that debt to China is really starting to freak me out. Also — if you could get Boehner to climb off the tanning bed, it would be good for the public’s health.