Prettiest Lady at the Dance

buntingShe was born on the fourth of July 1776 but not christened until the twenty-first of June 1788.  She was the world’s first Constitutional Republic and while she was the prettiest girl at the dance, her survival was anything but certain.

She nearly died an infant’s death during the winter of 1777-78.  Even with nursemaids as talented as Washington and Jefferson, Adams and Franklin, or Madison and Hancock, she would not have survived if not for the sacrifices of hundreds of patriots, most who are long forgotten or never known, who courageously gave her transfusions of their own blood at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

She survived and not only did she live, she defeated, with the help of the French, the most powerful nation on earth at that time.

As a child she was little more than a skinny string of communities that stretched the length of the eastern coast.  She turned her face westward as she looked for room to grow.   She took, bought or negotiated territories as she crossed the continent.  By the time she was an adolescent, her curves had been formed by the oceans to her east and west; her stature by neighbors to the north and south.

She struggled with her colors and nearly succumbed to self-inflicted wounds in the last half of the 19th century.  She was blessed to have a nanny named Lincoln to see her through the worst of it.

She hasn’t done everything right, like most young ladies, she made her mistakes.  I never said she was perfect, only the prettiest at the dance.

She came of age and her debutant ball was held on June 26th, 1917.  Europe had been at war four long years and had bled itself to the brink of death.  With the words, “Lafayette, we are here,” US General J.J. “Black Jack” Pershing led the American First Infantry Division ashore onto French soil.  The lady’s debt would be repaid.

It was “The War to end all wars,” they said, but it proved not to be true.  Throughout the 1930s a gang of three bullies appeared on the scene.  In Asia, the war started on July 7th, 1937 when Japan invaded China; September 1st, 1939 Hitler, with Mussolini in his pocket, invaded Poland.

The lady tried to stay out of the fight, but after being assaulted on December 7th, 1941 she brought her full might to bear.  The lady was angry.  She kicked butt and cleaned house.

The lady is a mother now.  She has given birth to a diverse family.  Some used to call her the melting pot.  That was never true, a jar full of jellybeans would be more accurate and I am not referring to the colors.  She reinforces the basic diversity that makes one person different from another.

Some celebrate by raising the flag above their heads and cheering.  Others spit on it, stomp on it and set it afire.  Not only is the lady strong enough to tolerate both actions, she protects them with her First Amendment.

Some call her a shining light on a hill; some call her the great Satan.  She can be brash and she stumbles from time to time.  She is as natural as a summer rain on the wheat fields of Kansas.  She is as glorious as daybreak over the Tetons in Wyoming.  She has the energy of a wave breaking against the rocks in La Jolla and she is as sexy as opening night on Broadway.

She remains the prettiest at the dance.

Happy Birthday America


Copyright © 2015 by Kwen D. Griffeth

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