Holding It All Together-My Country, Tis Of Thee

By Amy McCollom
Today when I woke up, I bet the sun rose on the Grand Canyon.  Small lizards ventured out from under rocks to bask in the warm sun, perhaps you could hear the rushing of the Colorado River still working its way through bumpy rocks and stone crevices.  Patches of assorted desert  grasses spot the banks; the cliff walls along the river display a palette of the artist’s best mixes of ancient hues that only time and erosion can produce.  It’s beautiful there.  Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon?

Have you ever been leaf-peeping in the fall in the New Hampshire White Mountains along the Kancamagus Highway?  Travelled down the gorgeous cobblestones on Acorn Street in the Boston suburb of Beacon Hill?  Have you peered over the rim into the crisp, clear waters of Crater Lake in Oregon; it’s the state’s deepest lake, and created by a volcanic eruption.  Have you ever buried your toes in the snow white sand in the dunes at White Sands, New Mexico, or sledded down one of the many peaks there that change by the hour with the wind?

Mountains, sea, desert, forest, tropics; our country has a little bit of everything. The beauty of these places is almost beyond words, yet poets, songwriters, painters, and photographers have managed to capture and relay enough of the essence and awe to touch our souls. It’s enough to make you fall in love with this country all over again. 

Like a grand victorian mansion, or a beautiful polished handmade boat; things we build up, care for, put our resources into, and admire, we also fall in love.  We take great care of things we love; our partners, our children, our cars, our pets, sometimes our jobs.

Ever wonder why ships, our flag, and even our country are sometimes referred to as “she.” You will find that the old sailors and military people are more prone to using that verbiage.  

Ships have a mixed bag of history for it. Some believe that ships were given female names to appease the sea goddesses, an old druid tradition. Others believe the naming practice came about because men at sea typically missed their lady and named their watercraft after her. Other explanations say that the female form of the noun “ship” in certain languages such as French, assigns a gender to nouns, and such being, the word ship was female in gender.  So, it got a female name.

Still, much to the scorn of gender-equality folk, others suggest that a ship needed a lady’s name because only a man could handle a ship across such a treacherous thing as a sea, (much like being in charge of a lady during love-making) and that men loved their ships, and took care of them as they would their own lady.  It was like a bond and control thing in one package. Sounds like a Harlequin romance, doesn’t it.

Flags are sometimes referred to as she, especially when referring to a flag in battle. “There She flies!”  The flag takes on almost the persona of the country, which is also referred to as a she, or the Motherland.  Except in Germany. It’s the Fatherland over there.  Enough said.

The country in which we live does seem to have a lot of motherlike qualities. She brings forth crops, she provides resources for us to build, eat, grow, learn, and survive. She offers herself for our protection, she spreads her land wide for us to explore and enjoy.  And like a partner, we must protect her, care for her, and not misuse her. We must manage what she offers to us well, or her resources will dry up.  

This country is alive. It is alive with resources, and wealth, and opportunity, and freedoms, and it is kind.  It is also vulnerable. If we truly love it, we must protect it from all enemies. We also must protect it from ourselves and each other.  

I look at the Veterans today who are standing at the gates and fences, protecting this great living country from enemies that want her. No matter who is the Commander In Chief, they put on their boots and take up their rifles to protect the one thing they love; this great country, this living country that provides for all of us. They know that no matter what differences we may have amongst ourselves, they are the ones who must stay vigilant on that wall, for their guard must be up, their eyes must be clear, and their courage must be strong.  I am grateful, so grateful for men and women who do that; who love this great living country and protect her from what I cannot.

For all of those veterans who went before, and those who will come after, I applaud you all. You stood and will stand where those of us could not. You stood in my place to protect what I love. You stood in my place to protect my husband, my children, my right to pray, my freedom.  

I will not forget that. I cannot forget that. We cannot forget that.

I love this country.  The mountains, the streams, the deserts, the oceans, the forests, the towns, the cities, the country roads that take me home, the cornfields in the middle of nowhere. I love it all. She is a great country. Thank you to all who helped make her and keep her that way. May God bless America, my country, tis of thee.

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