This is my country. I am glad to be here.
There are many Americans who do not believe that they are lucky to be here. I do-despite a lot of the bad luck that comes my way. I am honored to call this land my home, my country, my place in the world. I feel blessed to be born in this part of the world and I know, no matter where I may want to visit, I will never leave this beautiful country and set up house anywhere else.
I do not take my freedom for granted. I am thankful for it. For every little part of freedom that we experience each day-I am thankful. So many times we forget that being free is our privilege and we don't stop to even realize how many others are not.
We forget, as we cringe listening to some awful music blaring out of a car window or coming from our neighbors house, that there are others who cannot choose what they listen to. It is chosen for them. We forget when we spy art that someone may deem pornographic, that there are places in the world to show a woman's arm or ankle can be punished by stoning. We forget, as we watch people who have different opinions than us protesting, that there are those who are murdered, jailed and tortured for voicing theirs out loud. We forget that we are lucky, damn lucky, that our bodies were either birthed in this country or brought here by hard work and even by chance.
The National Anthem brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. Yet, so many people have heard it so often that they don't listen to the words anymore. They don't hear of the battles for our freedom and the men and women who fought them so that we could be here, living or trying to live the American dream. It is not the words that bring such tears, it is the patriotism behind it that does. Look at the old men when they sing. Look at their faces and how they place their hands on their hearts and they still actually believe it. This great love of country is moving to me. These men, who survived too many wars, still love their country. They have seen the worst of it-more than someone like me has ever seen-and they still feel lucky and proud.
Not everything is right in this country. Because of our freedoms, we have the opportunity to screw things up in a royal way-but also because we are free; we have the chance to change it all. We get to stand up for what we believe in and shout out that we won't tolerate whatever is making us disturbed. We have the chance to change it, improve it as well as to make it worse.
We truly are the greatest country in this world. Proof of that statement is simple to show. Look at all the people trying desperately to get into this country or stay in this country. Who in their right mind would risk their lives, leave their families and risk imprisonment to come to America if they did not believe it was worth it? I think if I had not been lucky to be born here that I would do the same.
I am creating the American dream by simply being alive in this country. I have the opportunity and the freedom to try and do anything I want to that is legal. The American dream does not mean it is all handed to me on a silver platter-it means that I have the opportunity to reach out for what I want. I am doing that. I am doing that right at this moment writing these words. I am feeling blessed because as a writer in America, I have the freedom of speech so many in other places don't. I can sit right here in this spot, type out whatever comes to mind, and I never have to stop and think that I can't say what I want to say.
I just say it because-this is my country.
Monika M. Basile