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America the Beautiful? MAG
History class disillusioned me.
Tarnished America the Beautiful in my mind.
Dimmed my patriotic pride.
Each black word on each white textbook page
was like an accusing finger, a silent voice saying
“Look! Look what YOU have done.”
And my vision of America began to crumble, to change.
I saw purple mountain majesties
stained with Cherokee blood, a trail of tears under their feet,
its twin trickling down their cheeks.
Amber waves of grain replaced by barbed wire
imprisoning Japanese fathers, daughters, sons.
I heard the faint cry of slaves,
the crack of the whip, the pain.
And this is the land of the free?
Instead of liberty, slavery.
Instead of equality, segregation.
Instead of democracy, corruption.
And when the American Dream's sparkling cover is ripped away
there is only greed.
Shame paints my cheeks red.
Liberty and justice? For all? Were they lies
tossed carelessly around by the men I admired?
Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson,
are they really just “dead white guys”
with a penchant for deception?
And then realization came like the sun rising anew,
shedding its golden light on my America that had become
foggy, clouded with hypocrisy.
My realization was this:
America is human.
Horrible mistakes clutter its shores like offending garbage,
but America learns and changes.
America is people, you and me, clasping hands and fixing our mistakes.
Righting our wrongs.
And when I look beyond the dirt and grime of national atrocities,
I see the America I love,
a land bruised by a few centuries of bad choices
but standing strong, a sturdy oak tree
rooted in liberty and justice.
A country where people hold the power
instead of the power holding them.
Where rainbowed people from a thousand different cultures
can pray and speak their mind
without fear that those words will be their last.
Searching beyond inky words on a textbook page
that imprison America behind nightmares of the past,
I see that the star-spangled banner does indeed wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.