Saturday, April 4, 2009

I Love My Country

I love my country.
I appreciate, as a woman especially, how much freedom I enjoy everyday. Even with all our economic woes, I can feel how fortunate I am to live in the most generous country in the world. I am proud, so very proud to call myself an American.
I understand how lucky, we all are, having the ability to question our government without imprisonment, torture or exile. No one will throw my sorry butt in jail as I tirade against greed and corruption. I can walk down my street without the fear of retribution or condemnation if I oppose our president or congress. I remember to pray a small prayer of gratitude for all the endless opportunities that are unique to being born under the American flag. It is the symbol we, as Americans, can wrap ourselves in that protects the rights we readily enjoy and utilize daily without a single thought.
I love my son.
I have prayed daily for his safety, health and happiness since the day he was born-eighteen long years ago. I have watched him grow into an honorable man, who believes in our constitution and the inalienable rights we have since the day this country was formed. He is good to his bones. He is the type of man whose future is so bright it lights up a room. He is the one of my four children who has the innate ability to gather us together when we begin to drift apart. My son has pure joy in his heart. His passions about right and wrong have been with him always. He has worked to protect our world by planting trees. He has cared for animals that were hurt or abandoned. He has cared for friends who were hurt and abandoned, as well. He has grown up so much bigger and better than I could have meagerly dreamed for him.
April 15, 2009 my life will change.
I am so aware of tax day. As an American, who used to be considered middle class, I am wholly alert to the inequities of our broken tax system. The quagmire that is the IRS, is in dire need of reform. Every year I hear reports of people making ten times the national average, not paying their taxes, it galls me to the point of near stroke. This year we handed our taxes to our accountant weak willed and unresolved said,"Do what you will."
This year I can barely muster the strength to give a damn what the federal government does with our hard earned money. This year, on April 15, 2009, My only concern will be for my youngest son, as he signs a contract with the United States Army. This will be the tax day when my payment will be the life of my son.
I raised my children to be proud Americans. I lectured them in voting booths about personal responsibility in voting. I spoke of suffrage and how voting and being actively involved in our country was their civic duty. I have repeated my mantra of "We the people" ad nauseum. I believed what I said. They believed it too, and now Tom will be doing exactly what I asked of them as small children. On the 15th I will watch my son dedicate himself to serve and protect the country he and I both love. Tom is not signing as a last resort. He has wanted to serve in the army since he was a small child. He has college money. He has his brilliance and joy and honor. He could do anything. What he wants to do is join the military. My plan is to take the camera and thoroughly embarrass him. I will proudly take pictures and shake hands after I watch him take his oath and sign away the next 6 years of his life. Tom is brave. He doesn't dwell on what if's, he thinks about what needs to be done in the immediate. Tom loves structure and the idea of living a life of sacrifice for the greater good. He is a much better and braver person than the mother who raised him.
For the next few months I will be spending every minute I can with Tom. This will be obnoxious and he will tell me several times to back off. I will burst into tears and tell him I love him so very much. I will sit quietly watching him and ask God to protect this boy, my boy. I will console myself with other military families and their stories of survival. I will question if this is a good decision until Tom reminds me he knows what he wants. I will sing the national anthem even louder (I always sing) everytime it is played. The flag will hold new meaning for me. It will represent my son living thousands of miles away fighting for peace.
On April 15, 1009 I will say a mantra of "I love my country" over and over and over until the time comes for me to pull myself together and remember to celebrate the freedom Tom has in making this choice. And when it's time for Tom to go off on his great adventure,I will pray for the strength and courage to endeavor to deserve the son who has made me smile a million times.

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