Let it Burn

Raising-the-Flag-on-Iwo-Jima-is-a-historic-photograph-taken-on-February-23-1945-mtsu.edu-jjjWe hear about America all the time during this time of year, sometimes to the point where it becomes numbing. “Yeah, yeah. We get it already. A bunch of guys kicked an Empire’s butt, and now I can’t get a breather when that time rolls around again.” Yeah, it can feel that way. Especially when you hear the same things over and over again. But there are some amazing stories and the like out there, ones that don’t say the same thing over and over again, but actually sink to our core and remind us who we are as a people. We’re not a cheep, more-plastic-than-cloth flag hanging next to the basket ball hoop. We’re not a red-white-and-blue cake/jello recipe off of the internet. We’re not even those amazing bursts of colored fire that light up the July sky.

We’re rebels. Not for the sake of it, not against what’s good. We’re rebels against the normality of the world. We’re rebels against oppression, against unjust rule, against tyranny. We’re rebels against what the world wants us to cower before. We’re not a grill sale. We’re not even the Declaration. We’re a people, a promise, a hope. WE are America.

Listen to stories from our past. Catch the spark of red white and blue fire, let it burn. Let it hurt. Yeah, our nation is messing up. That hurts. We’re not acting in ways that would make Washington or Kennedy proud. But, you know what, America is the people’s country. If we don’t like it, let’s raise our voices. We can make a difference, we just need to stop limiting ourselves. Let it burn, let it sweep across the nation. Let it burn!

My Mt. Rushmore Trip Thoughts

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Just so you all know, this isn’t the post I had been planning. I hope you like it, though! Anyway, if you read my ‘Sorry’ post, you’ll know that I wasn’t able to do much this past week because my family and I were in South Dakota. I wish I could tell you all the amazing things that we saw and did there, but if I did that, this post would be as long as Return of the King.

What I want to talk about is the Lighting Ceremony that Mount Rushmore does in the evenings throughout the summer. It’s nothing grandiose, it’s just a ceremony honoring the four Presidents on that mountain, and the men who put them there. In the middle, they show a small program giving context to each of Washington’s, Lincoln’s, Jefferson, and Roosevelt’s terms. After that we listened to America the Beautiful, and then sang the National Anthem as the flag was lowered by military personnel from the audience. It was powerful. And it got me thinking.

Being patriotic isn’t a bad thing. It’s not a ‘dumb’ thing, reserved only for rednecks and the odd history buff. Our country is wonderful, beautiful, diverse, amazing, and awesome. I don’t use those words lightly. Awesome literally means ‘to inspire awe’. Your national heritage isn’t something that only exists because you live somewhere. It’s your heart, it’s your drive, your will, your beliefs, and your dreams. America is a dream. Love her! Our founding fathers did. All of the greats in our history loved America with a passion. Do you ever wonder what our country would be like if they were still here? News flash, they are.

We can do amazing things, just like they did, if we just love our nation and fight for her morals. If we just give her, and ourselves, a chance, who says that we can’t be what we were? The only thing that’s missing is that passion, that reckless abandon to chase after what we know is right. Gen Z, let’s be the generation that people point to and say, “That’s who brought America back to her Golden Days. That’s the generation who brought back the patriotic fire of the stars and stripes, they’re the ones who preserved this great nation.” Why not, guys? Why not?

The Impossible Dream

Man-of-La-ManchaIn the year 1966, a new play was written. That fact didn’t mean anything, but what the play was about couldn’t help but draw attention. It was a musical, based on the story Don Quixote, written by Miguel de Cervantes. The book is large. Very large. I should know, I had to read it for school. The fact that the influential story was condensed into a play was attractive to the public, and it became a success. The play, Man of La Mancha by name, is much more popular than the book. Why? Well, most people would rather sit in a seat and watch a play than read hundreds of pages of difficult passages. Also, the moral of the story was clearer.

In the story, Don Quixote is a normal man who drives himself crazy by reading too many stories about knights and chivalry. He takes it upon himself to become a ‘knight errant’, and he vows to rid the world of evil….. by attacking windmills and herds of sheep. What a nutcase, right? Well, yes. He’s a lunatic, but he’s also the only person in the whole story who actually makes sense.

For illustration, Aldonza is one of the main characters in the play, and she’s not exactly a heroin. She was born and forgotten by “…a mother who left me…” and she was considered the lowest of low society. When Don Quixote sees her, though, he only sees his beautiful Dulcinaia. When he sees her, he doesn’t see what the world made her to be, he sees who she could be.

The song that sold the show is still popular. “The Impossible Dream” was sung by Don Quixote in the play. I attached a video for it, please listen, it will make your day, week, month. In the song, one of the lines is “This is my quest/ to follow that star/ no matter how hopeless/ no matter how far/ to fight for the right/ without question or pause/ to be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause/”

That song is so moving because it is so real. Don Quixote is crazy. Loopy, nuts, bonkos, but he is living in a way that moves people. This play, this song, was written by Americas. We know that he’s right, we know that the rest of the actors are the ones that are crazy. We know that to fight ‘for the right, without question or pause’ is beautiful, crazy, and perfect.

So let’s live that way. Who cares if the world says we’ve lost it? Who cares if they say we’re just another generation that doesn’t understand? If they think that’s a pitiable dream, they’re the ones that don’t understand! “This is our quest! To follow that star!” Let’s chase it down, let’s be crazy. Let’s be crazy for actually living, and for seeing things as they can be, not what they were made to be. Let’s see Aldonza as Dulcinaia.

Don Quixote is a hero, but he’s not real. He’s fictional. We’re real, and we can be heroes. Not fictional, not made up, but living, breathing heroes. What’s holding us back from that?

The answer: nothing.

Never Give Up

never-giv-eup

Yeah, yeah. It’s cliché. Hold on! Keep going! You’ll come out stronger! What does that even mean?

Our country is the land of the free and the home of the brave because our leaders NEVER GAVE UP. Everyone listens to popular bands because the lead singers NEVER GAVE UP. Actors like Chris Pratt are now famous and praised because they NEVER GAVE UP. You see new books in print because the author NEVER GAVE UP. You have a brand-new phone because engineers NEVER GAVE UP. Never giving up is different for different people, but it follows the same pattern.

A person sees a goal, a dream, and they go for it. So far so good. Then they get knocked to the ground by (fill in the blank). Then the person does one of two things. One, they can stop while they’re ahead and find a safer goal to chase. Or they can get back up, dust themselves off, try again, then get knocked back to the ground. Yikes.

It’s the last few who end up standing, shinning, before all the world. I know I use mountains in metaphors quite a bit, but that’s because they work so well. Our lives our mountains. You can give out at a large, safe cliff and spend the rest of your days wondering what the top looks like, or you can scrape your skin, hit your head, sleep on ledges no bigger than twin sized matresses, and then see the world from the top of who you are. That’s what I think never giving up means, it means not stopping your hike until you reach the top of your mountain. It might be a degree, it might be raising a family. Heck, it might be the surviving the ACT. No matter what happens to us, let’s go down in history as the generation that NEVER GAVE UP. On anything, or anyone.

American Phrase Friday

President_Roosevelt_-_Pach_Bros.tif“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

American Opportunity

downloadHey, Americans! Do you know that you live in one of the most amazing countries in the entire world? Well, obviously you do, but still! People risk everything to find the American Dream, and our people are born with it free. You can do anything you want in your life! Anything! Make a movie? Yup! Become a government official? Go ahead! FBI, singer, artist? Why not! We American teens have one of the most amazing futures in front of us, one of dreams, of beauty, of awesomeness! I don’t mean that word in the slang tense, by the way, I mean awe-provoking. Ground-shaking, history-altering futures. At our fingertips!

We have amazing Universities on our soil, we have outstanding scientists, fabulous writers, people here who teach whatever you can think of! I mean, how outstanding is that? Our generation is growing up in one of the most amazing places in the world, we have everything we need to change our world right here. In our cities, our Nation. We can change the world by living to the fullness of our being, by throwing ourselves into our dreams, not matter what they are.

Here, in the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, we can do anything. We. Can. Do. Anything. You can make your life what you want it to be, that’s the beauty of America. Your dreams are never too big, the sky is never out of reach, it’s always just around the next corner.