• 72°

America, the Land that I love

I was born amid the lush greenery of East Tennessee where the soil produces sweet scented flowers every summer and icicle hang every winter on the rocks protruding from the earth.

I have had the privilege to travel beyond the hills where I was born to many places in this great land we call America.  How many times have I flown from coast to coast, from north to south, and gazed at my native earth from above?

The land where majestic peaks dot the landscape as well as the deserts of the west and the green of the east.   Where flat patches of farming land form a beautiful quilt over much of America’s center.  Where the rivers, lakes, ponds, and oceans that feed our portion of earth glimmer in the sun as blue skies frame it all.

I have sailed in Maine, canoed in Georgia, climbed the skyscrapers of New York and the trees of North Carolina.  I have seen corn fed cows grazing in Iowa and corn growing tall in Indiana.   I have witnessed an eagle soar on Puget Sound in Washington and sea birds fly in Florida. I have reached to the sky in Colorado and touched the sacred ground of fallen soldiers in Virginia.  I climbed down into the Grand Canyon, hiked in California, and walked through the blue grass of Kentucky.

In South Dakota, I watched the Buffalo roam as four past Presidents watched me from Mt. Rushmore.  Oh yes, I have traveled beyond the place where I was born to many of the states that form our union.  I have crossed the country twice by car and witnessed the diverseness of the land and its people. America is relatively new.  We don’t have the old castles, or remnants of old Roman civilizations that once roamed over its fields.  We don’t have kings or queens, tsars or regimes.

Instead our power is in our freedom. The freedom that so many have given their lives for and still fight to maintain is where we find our unique beauty. We are not a land of old, we are a land where opportunity allows us to be new all the time.

Americans have seen their share of division, hatred, wars, apathy, and heartache, but somewhere in the depth of each American is a desire to achieve unity, love, peace, care, and joy.  We can renew because we have the freedom to do so. We have the right to protest, protect, pray, and proceed as this great nation we call United.

Near where I was born, lies the grave of John Walker. He immigrated, as many did, from Scotland in the mid 1700s. He and his six brothers fought for our freedom in the Revolutionary War. Two brothers starved and died as prisoners of war.  Generations would follow the immigrant, John.  They lived among the hills of the east and then moved westward. They searched to find their place in the world because John and those like him, won them the freedom to do so.

Beside John’s grave is a tiny American flag.  He died not as a Scotsman but as an American. This July Fourth, perhaps we choose not to listen to the news about our divisiveness, but instead walk outside, touch the ground and pick up the soil.  Let the grains of dirt fall through our fingers because this is our land.  It is this land that will remind us to continue to pray and fight for her. This July Fourth, maybe we should turn off our phones and televisions.  Perhaps, instead, we should take our children and grandchildren to visit the silent graves of fallen soldiers who gave their lives so that they could play free on a noisy schoolyard.

This July Fourth, maybe we don’t need to hear political parties feuding. Instead, perhaps we need to hear the exploding fireworks celebrating the birth of our United States.

This July Fourth perhaps we should take an American flag and plant it in every front yard. We can dot this beautiful landscape with red, white, and blue from sea to shining sea.  After all, “God did give his grace to thee.”

I was born in the hills of Tennessee. In the end, I will return to the soil where the sweet, fragrant flowers grow. It is there that I will be laid beside my brother and the rest of my family that fought and died for the freedom they gave me to travel far.

Lynn Walker Gendusa is a retired Interior Designer.  She is currently a weekly columnist for a Georgia newspaper. She can be reached at lwgendusa@bellsouth.net