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Who Am I?
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2001-09-22 - 12:27 a.m.
On the internal soundtrack: "America the Beautiful"
What I want to remember twenty years from now:
It is seventh-inning stretch at the Mets game, and Liza Minelli is singing "New York, New York".
She looks like she is celebrating New York. The fact that even though it got beat up some, it is still New York and still means everything it ever meant to the people who love it.
There are fifty thousand cheering people in the stadium, singing along with her, and a row of NYPD policemen behind her doing their good-natured clumsy laughing best to make like the Rockettes.
This is wonderful!
So, after seeing that, and after watching all the celebrities sing "America the Beautiful" -- a song that brings me to tears in the best of times -- on the (otherwise horrendous) telethon, I have something I want to say.
I love this country. I do. I love it the way I love my family. I didn't have any choice in the matter, and they drive me crazy sometimes, and there are things I could do without, but it's made up of a lot of good people who have accomplished some amazing things, and who come together and support each other in times of difficulty.
I love this country because for every inevitable jerk who hasn't learned the difference between a Muslim and a terrorist, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people who try to live the dream of judging people not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I love this country because it works to correct its mistakes, from abolishing slavery to giving women the vote, using grassroots efforts from the Underground Railroad to the lunch counter sit-ins.
I love this country because I can't move to France and become a Frenchwoman, but people can come here from every country in the world and become an American. Because there are so many people, despite the hyphenations and the racist jerks who get far too much press, who really do believe that we ARE all AMERICANS.
I love this country for its ideals. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion and expression, freedom to be and do whatever you want. And for every flaw this country has, there are people working to fix it. They're squabbling over how to do it, of course, but the thing they have in common is that they want to make it better.
I love this country because people can disagree so vehemently with each other on extremely difficult, volatile issues like abortion, and yet still live peaceably side by side.
I love this country because it is made up of so many people who believe in themselves, in the ideas upon which this country was founded, and in each other.
It's not about a nation-state, or the U.S. government, but about a group of individuals who hold beliefs in common despite a world full of oppression and a very human nature that makes it sometimes difficult to put those beliefs into practice.
That is why, when I see those flags hanging everywhere, and the people dressed in red, white, and blue, or when I hear "God Bless America" and "America the Beautiful", I get a lump in my throat. Because although it may not be perfect, there's a great deal to be proud of, and I am.
America! America! God mend thine ev'ry flaw