"If I was born American, I would never complain a day in my life."
The Haitian heat had begun to fade as we crowded around tables, bellies full and eyes wide. Frantz had been our guide through the chaotic and heartbreaking city of Port Au Prince. He had been our dedicated advocate all week as we struggled to complete a construction project in the mountain village of Bau Michele that seemed overwhelming and out of reach. He drove us by the US Embassy, where a sea of dark faces waited in the blistering heat for a chance at a new life in America. When we loaded up in the 'People Mover' (a flatbed truck that held all 25 of us in a giant cage) he efficiently navigated the tangled traffic to get us where we needed to be, and didn't judge us when we crowded against the edges and took pictures of the suffering of his people.
"In Haiti," Frantz explained,"people do not have possibilities."
And in the days I spent in Haiti, I found that to be true. I woke up this morning and had a dozen choices for breakfast. A woman just like me in Haiti woke up this morning and maybe had one thing to feed her children. I have 'possibilities' every day to make a better life for myself, to find comfort and rest and fulfillment.
If you would have asked me two weeks ago if I was proud to be an American, I would have emphatically insisted I was. As the mom of two active duty soldiers, one serving in Afghanistan as I type this, I am thankful for our heritage and the ones who fight to preserve it.
But as I flew into Miami, I couldn't help but compare the neat rows of houses and the clean streets to the land I had just left behind. Chaos and filth flow through the streets, hopelessness fills the faces of the people who live in them, and the stink of burning garbage rises with the sun every morning. Relief flooded over me as I flew over American soil, knowing I was back in a land of safety and order. I have never been faced with how life can be without the privileges I enjoy.
The United States of America is not a perfect nation. There are many problems, and many battles to be fought to preserve our integrity and way of life. But today I rest in the fact that I am an American. I enjoy freedom today, and I refuse to take it for granted. I realize that I could have been born anywhere, but today I am waking up a United States citizen, safe because many put their lives on hold, fought for a new way of life, sacrificed their own futures and even made the ultimate sacrifice.
For the rest of my life, I will do my best to not complain. I will do what I can to help save many lives, because I have been greatly blessed. I will remember Frantz and the ones he loves, who have no possibilities.
And today, I will thank God for every single thing in my life.
Today is the Fourth of July. Today I am proud to be an American.