I am very patriotic. I grew up understanding that my older brother served in WWII fighting for our country and had witnessed things he could never speak of. December 7th has always been a day of recognition for me. Most days, (weather permitting) I fly the United States flag proudly from the front of my house.
During my first marriage, I lived in various sections of our United States and was amazed to discover that there were differences among the “united”.
When we moved from Oklahoma to North Carolina, we were called “Yankees”. I always thought Yankees were from the north. The Confederate flag was still flying on many homes and businesses. Since I had very young children, I was still purchasing baby food. Imagine my surprise when Gerber offered “red eye gravy” and “grits” in their baby food jars.
In Texas, the town we lived in did not allow “colored” people within the city limits. They would be escorted to the edge of town and asked to leave. Unbelievable!
Growing up in Kansas, I had seen many dust storms. But when I lived in Texas, the dust storms took on a new meaning. Trying to dry my baby’s diapers on the clothesline, I learned to keep an eye on the sky and time my washing to coincide with the weather. Sometimes it wasn’t the dust, but the black smoke from the refinery in Borger that would cause me to have to re-wash those diapers. The diaper dance would have to be achieved while eluding the ever present flying tumbleweeds.
Maryland was the state that introduced me to draw bridges. We didn’t have many of those in Kansas. One day, as my spouse drove us to church, we heard some kind of bell clanging. As he approached the bridge, he did not slow down. The clanging grew louder. I could see a ship in the water below, headed to sail under the bridge. Just as our front wheels reached the bridge, it began to move upward. Slamming on the brakes, we watched as the road in front of us became a hill…with a large opening…so the ship could sail through.
We weren’t in Kansas any more.
I learned about red dirt in Oklahoma. With small children, it seemed that all of their clothes took on a rusty color. They discovered you could do many things with that red dirt; become an Indian with painted face and make designs on the sidewalk (and sometimes the house).
Having lived in Kansas the first 17 years of my life, my world was flat. The first time I was in a car headed west from our town, I thought what I saw in the distance was a row of thunderheads. The closer we came to those clouds, the stranger they looked. I had never seen mountains. After having a glimpse of the Rockies, I wondered why anyone lived in Kansas. I even asked some of the people I knew why they still lived there. Some had never been out of that city…others had never crossed the state border. It was all they knew and they were happy.
Nebraska is where I experienced the goodness of people. That is where I lived when my husband left me…and the church we had attended made it clear I was no longer welcome. Having devoted my entire life in the service of that denomination, I felt abandoned in many ways. Across the street from my house was a Mennonite Church. One day, three women from that church appeared at my front door. They had heard about my troubles (small town) and wanted to let me know I was welcome at their church. How wonderful that felt. Someone wanted me!
Living in Idaho was like living in a totally different country. They didn’t have tornadoes. Oh, they said they did, but I had seen real ones. Idaho has mountains and lakes and trees and wonderful weather. I felt like I was living in a picture postcard.
But the one thing I have discovered is that people are people, wherever you live. The color, accent or language does not matter. There are always good ones and bad ones.
I don’t agree with everything America stands for. The laziness, greed, and need for instant gratification have caused a meltdown in our economy. But look around. There are many places that are so much worse off than we are. I am grateful that I live in the United States of America.
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