Rise Up

I have had the privilege to travel outside of our United States.

I have been parked in a plane on a tarmac in Sudan with the rear emergency exit door open, framing a soldier with an automatic weapon guarding our jet filled with Western passengers.  I have stood on a street corner in Addis Ababa as an Isuzu pickup truck filled with standing men waving guns sped by.  I have had my camera swatted away by Chinese military in Tiananmen Square because I was taking a picture of something I didn’t know I couldn’t.

I have had the privilege to travel outside of our United States.

I have seen the beaten down and oppressed camped outside of presidential palaces.  In our country they are the few.  In those countries they are the masses.  I have witnessed first hand the handiwork of government corruption.  A few of my own children are a result of their governments not caring about their own people.

I have had the privilege to travel outside of our United States.

My inner voice has screamed when I have travelled among the hollow souls, “Rise up! RISE! UP!” when  the numbers of oppressed vastly outweigh the numbers who hold them down.  But those who should rise up, can’t.  They are too tired. They have no voice.  In the United States our voice is today.  Whether we side with the Donkey or the Elephant. We. Have. A. Voice.  And we HAVE to appreciate the platform of which we can use this voice.  And we have to exercise this right that so many other citizens of the world do not have.

I have had the privilege to travel outside of our United States.

I remember the first time I heard the Star Spangled Banner after I had returned from China.  The Yankees were playing the Marlins in the sixth game of the world series in 2003.  I had only been home for 48 hours when I sat down to watch the game.  I can’t remember who sang the anthem.  I can remember the effect the words had on me though, especially the line, “that our flag was still there.”   Its funny how your appreciation for your county’s flag changes after spending a considerable length of time in a communist country.  You really begin to miss the red, white, and blue, especially when every single building in China flies one… two…or hundreds of the blood red banners symbolic of their country.  For me, at that moment, while watching America’s Greatest Pastime it really did matter to me that my flag, a flag first sewn by a 24-year old woman named Betsy in 1776, was still there.  And that the basic principles and ideologies that were created during the birth of our nation was still there.  And that the power of its own citizens to be heard…was still there.

I have had the privilege to travel outside of our United States…and it is because of this privilege I can honestly speak from my heart when I say we do live in the greatest nation on the planet because we DO have a voice and that voice CAN be summed up in one solitary word…


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