“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
It is not a natural thing for a 8th grade student in Bangladesh to memorize Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address top to bottom. But like many in my class, I did. Even though it didn’t have much of an impact on me then, it is that single speech that continues to deepen my feelings for this country that I now proudly call my own.
Recently I met a CNN political contributor who served as a counselor to one of the past American presidents. He was telling us a story about his Eastern European grandmother. She made a living as a hotel maid most of her life. She ended up visiting the White House when her grandson became part of the President’s administration. When she met the President in the Oval Office, the President apparently asked her if he could do or show her anything. She had only one question for the President, “How does the White House keep the brass on those fireplaces so shiny all the time!’ The President didn’t know…
On the way back from the White House she kept repeating “Only in America, only in America”. She meant that only in America could a maid’s grandson work for the President, giving the maid an opportunity to ask the President–in the Oval Office– about the cleaning process of a shiny brass fireplace!
It is also in America, where, despite its imperfections, a multi-racial and multi-gender presidential primary could take place. A fairly unknown candidate can challenge political establishments. You can be a candidate in your 70’s, your name can be Obama. Here you can express your democratic rights, show your patriotism differently.
It is here where the Supreme Court can remand a sitting president and reinforce the constitutional rights of prisoners to due process and the balance between personal liberties and national security.
Here, the son of a garbage man can become a giant in journalism—winning the hearts of millions by engaging viewers in the political process, and holding our political leaders accountable for what they do and don’t do. And breaking hearts by leaving too soon! It is here where you get to know the past, present, and the future of our nation’s leadership through the captivating conversations between the late Tim Russert and Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Here, in the same neighborhood, people from four continents can live peacefully. Family members represent the globe, bloodlines can represent ten different ethnicities! It is here where people come together despite their differences, extend helping hands around the globe for unknown souls, and rally against the unjust.
This nation’s flaws may run deep; some actions are shameful, some maybe even criminal, yet it is here where anyone can dream, achieve, feel tall, change their lives, start fresh, love anyone.
It is in America where time and time again new leaders, authors, entrepreneurs, scientists, journalists rise out of nowhere to inspire millions and move us forward!