I know I promised pictures from our trip this week, but before the picture posting commences I thought I would dedicate a post to my home country on its 235th birthday. It is after all where I grew up and where I will always consider to be home.
I must be honest with you when I say that there was a time when I took being an American (and all that comes with it) for granted. After traveling abroad extensively during my Sophomore and Junior years of college I became way more consumed with understanding and embracing other countries' cultures than my own and in a sense I was also exposed to the negative perceptions often attributed to Americans and our government for the first time. I learned that the world is much bigger than just the United States and I made it my little mission to make sure that all of my family and friends were aware of that (often times to no avail).
Having said that, and having now actually lived abroad for over three years, I can say that I've gained a renewed and new found appreciation for the United States, its people and what we generally stand for. I appreciate the United States for giving me a safe and nurturing childhood, systems that allowed me access to good medical care and a spot-on education and numerous opportunities which one would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere in the world. Over the past couple of years I've become so proud of my nationality and Jurgen and I have serious hopes of moving back to states in a few years time. Bearing this in mind, on this day I thought it would be fitting to list a few of the reasons why I love America and love being an American:
- I love that Americans are generally so giving, compassionate and willing to volunteer their time to those less fortunate than themselves - I don't think any other country can rival ours in our ability to give to others in times of need.
- I love that we are given access to free and fair elections and that, despite our numerous differences, our two main political parties are much more similar than they are different.
- I love that we have good and efficient government and public services and that our government is generally free of large-scale corruption (I've only truly come to appreciate this after living in South Africa).
- I love that our police officers are generally good, hard-working and honest people who want to make a difference and keep us safe (this appreciation has also only set in since moving to SA).
- I love that most parts of our country are safe and that many people don't even feel the need to lock their front door at night - I also love that we can drive with our purses on our passenger car seat without worrying about "smash-and-grabs".
- I love that our country embraces people from all backgrounds, races and religions and that people generally look down upon and discourage racism.
- I love America because it is where my family and closest friends are and because I get to be near them when I'm there :)
- I love the United Stated because its fast food chains are open 24 hours, Ralphs is open 24 hours and Denny's is open 24 hours.
- And last, but definitely not least, I love the good ol' US of A because it has Target, Taco Bell, Jack in the Box, Cheesecake Factory, J Crew, Bare Minerals and Cheese-Its.
So, happy birthday America, and thanks for everything you've given me and continue to give me, I will forever be grateful.
I also just want to add that this post is in no way anti-South African. I love South Africa and I could make an equally long list on all of the reasons why I love living here - in fact I may just have to do that next year on Freedom Day :)