“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” – Anonymous
I wrote this blog the day before I returned to the US on January 24th. I did not send it. My thoughts were that it was a little preachy, perhaps it would be received as “ political”. I have never been overtly political. I have remained and voted as an independent. I have loved and continue to love people who hold beliefs different than mine. It is February 12th and I am back in Oxford. Soon we will have spent four months here. I am back at my desk looking out at this lovely garden on a bright sunny day. Things remain green here in the winter – grass, shrubs, trees- a sharp contrast to home. There are even flowers and herbs in pots on porches. There are birds flying about. I will walk this afternoon to the market without boots and a hat and all the necessities of the Chicago winter. I’m sending my original blog because as I tell you so often it is important to find a way to speak your truth. I send this without agenda. It is what I have experienced, felt and thought.
Almost three months have passed since I moved to England, and while here I have had the opportunity to visit a number of WWI and WWII historical sites in both England and France. Like many Americans the locations and dates during these wars were just lines in a history book, questions on a quiz, or scenes in a movie to me.
Daniel J. Boorstin wrote, “ When I was living in England I found that the more I lived abroad, the more American I discovered I was.”
While visiting Normandy, Omaha Beach, Amiens, Pointe Du Hoc, and other sites in France and seeing the rows and rows of white crosses and Stars of David in the cemeteries, I was deeply moved by the sacrifice my grandfather’s and father’s generations made to protect freedom and democracy. The suffering of the English and French people has not been forgotten by them. They continue to remember the threat to freedom and democracy. My daughters and I visited a French family the week after Christmas and were told that the French people are grateful to the Americans who came and died to put an end to their suffering and free them. There are yearly remembrances and expressions of gratitude for democracy and freedom from oppression. I was surprised at my emotional reaction to what I experienced. The energy and spirit of the sacrifice was palpable.
During these horrific wars all political parties gave their sons and daughters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, and brothers and sisters to fight and defend democracy and freedom. Their sacrifices were made for their generation and all the generations to come after. Looking at our world today I wonder,”What would they think?” Would they weep for our government? What would they think about the dedication to power and partisanship over the country they took an oath to honor and protect? What would they think about the lust for attention and the greed that seems to motivate so many people in power? What would the Americans who liberated Dachau and Auschwitz think of our country today? What would they say about camps that hold immigrants and take children away from parents? Soldiers come in all colors, religions and social groups and they give their lives to protect freedom and democracy- an ideal that rises above all differences. If the spirits of the men and women, who sacrificed their lives to protect these ideals, our democracy, could rise up from their graves what would they say?
These were my thoughts as I walked the cemeteries and battle sites.
I send blessings to all our representatives. I pray they will remember the sacrifices made by generations of brave patriots, look to their hearts and find guidance through their highest intentions.
Like Daniel J. Boorstin, maybe I too am more American.