I was awakened around midnight by early fireworks from the house below. They sounded like bombs, which set me thinking about patriotism in its worst forms, its attitudes, actions, and even its bumper stickers. But more about that later.
I love the principles upon which this country was founded, even though I know that large groups of people were left out of the frounders' vision--Native Americans and African slaves chief among them. We have widened the hoop of our democratic vision to include them, though the racism that tainted our past still haunts us. And Native Americans still remain by and large invisible in our culture.
I love the vast landscape of this magnificent country. Seeing some of it from the air has intensified that awe, that love of place that we all should cherish. Below, I watched Mount Hood and Mount Adams rise up out of the clouds as I flew toward Portland, Oregon two years ago.
I love the cities where people can come together and share their culture, their art, their music, and I particularly love San Francisco, with its legacy of tolerance and dissent.
I especially love the world famous Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista bar and restaurant on Fisherman's Wharf!
And I love the religious freedom that we enjoy in this country. Freedom of Religion, or no religion, is hardwired into our American way of life. Here, a group of Indian/Muslim -Americans celebrate being citizens and singing about their patriotism, not their "terrorism." They were dancing to Bollywood music! Long live Freedom of Speech and Assembly, with some Bollywood and Bluegrass thrown in for good measure!
This beautiful mosque on our walk back to our hotel always impressed me with its elegance.
I love the cultural diversity of our country. Even crowded Chinatown!
Back home now by the Tuckasegee River, looking at the seemingly indestructible coneflowers at the edge of our garden, I let myself brood on what is indestructible in our communities and our nation, realizing how fragile things can be, how what seems to be lasting can suddenly become threatened, and how, in order to earn our patriotism, we must keep working to make sure that our government of, by, and for the people remains vibrant and visionary. That the hoop keeps expanding to allow that vision to become reality.