O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
America, The Beautiful Lyrics by Katharine Lee Bates – 1913
Every now and then, my father will tell me a story about my grandfather that will surprise me. Like how he got shot once, fled on horseback, and even though he reached safety, the bullet was never taken out. It’s moments like that one when I realize my grandparents had a very different life than I do.
I tend to reflect a lot on my family history, mostly on the vast life differences between generations. I especially thought about this during my college graduation. As I sat on the metal chairs facing the commencement stage, among all the other graduates, I kept thinking: How did I get here?
I’m part of the first generation in my family to be born in the US, so I can’t help but wonder if my future grandchildren will know about my own unique upbringing, a complicated story weaving together two nations and languages.
Will they know how much I longed to live here? Will they know how happy I was that fateful day when that dream became a reality?
As a child, there were times I didn’t feel fully American because I didn’t grow up with the same stories and sayings as some of my white friends. Nevertheless, I always treasured my citizenship because I knew how much had been sacrificed for it. Even now that patriotism and nationalism seem like dated concepts in elitist circles, my heart swells with pride.
I can’t help but love America.
I hope one day my grandchildren experience what it’s like to hike wooded trails in New Hampshire during autumn, to sail along the Na Pali Coast in Hawaii, to wake up to a New England snow day, and fall asleep, sprawled out on a beach, listening to the waves crashing against California’s shore.
I hope they plan out the perfect road trip across multiple states, with lots of stops at popular food places. Maybe they’ll visit cities like New York and Seattle. Perhaps get a little lost in the history of Boston and gaze upon their reflection on the bean in Chicago. And when they walk around D.C., I hope they think about how they got there, how their lives contribute a few dots to the intricate tapestry of American history.
My pride in country is in reality a recognition of the many blessings and privileges I have due to where I live. So will my grandchildren know what it took to get here? The boldness and foresight of their great-grandparents, the difficulties of assimilation, and how the decisions of one generation can so profoundly affect the next?
Will my grandchildren know?
That I found happiness and contentment here?
I hope I live long enough to tell them myself.
Thank you for reading! For all my American friends, HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!
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