Friday, July 17, 2009

This Land is My Land


Read Whitman's "I Hear America Singing." Identify a song that has held some meaning for you or for the group over the trip and reflect on how it's important to America and/or the road trip.

I've always loved America's patriotic songs and hymns. I can remember finding my dad's old boy scout handbooks from his childhood, rummaging through them, and being thrilled to find a whole section in the back about our National Anthem and other songs. I memorized the words to most of them, learned to play them on piano, flute -- whatever musical instrument I could get my hands on, and sung them all the time. It made me feel like I was part of something special, part of a big, friendly group of people who called themselves Americans.

One that kept coming back to me during the trip is Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land..."

This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.


As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

I've roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.


Arriving at the Statue of Liberty, I started thinking about everything that lies between that Redwood forest and the New York Island I was now standing on. Having journeyed from one end of the country to the other, taking in what lies between, has enabled me to have a new sense of ownership of our country. I've seen the diamond deserts, the ribbons of highway, the gulf stream waters, the golden valleys, and much, much more. I've shared meals with people all over the country, and no matter what our political or religious views, I was able to find common ground with almost everyone in breaking bread together.

I'm glad that my experiences here -- the goodness of so many Americans and the infinite beauty of America's landscapes -- have made me want to take ownership. It would have been a sad story if I went out and discovered that America really wasn't everything I had built it up to be. No, on the grand scale of everything, I didn't really discover anything new -- America is just what I thought it would be.

And that's great news. :)

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