I have been struggling with ideas for blog posts lately. I have various topics floating around in my head, but nothing seems to feel right. I have been toying with an idea for quite sometime, but it involves a picture of my son and I have made a deliberate effort here to keep the identities of my family and friends anonymous in my posts. This particular picture however, is already in cyberspace, and well, I am pretty fracking proud of it. And it kind of inspires and ties together some of the ideas bouncing around in my brain, sort of.
This is my Buzzsaw. The young one on the left. Ha ha. Couldn’t help myself. Anywaaay, this picture was taken by Reuter’s photojournalist, Jonathan Ernst, at last years Fourth of July celebration at The White House. My husband is in the military, and each year The White House invites members of the military to celebrate the Fourth of July on the White House lawn. My family was fortunate enough to get selected (it’s a lottery style selection and each service has a quota they are allotted). As a defunct history major, I almost peed myself with excitement at the prospect of spending our nations birthday on such historic ground. At one point in the evening, I was standing by myself for a moment just looking around and thinking about the people who had walked on the very same ground I was standing. I thought of Teddy Roosevelt’s children and their menagerie of animals romping around where my very feet were planted! I thought of Abe Lincoln and imagined him walking where I stood while pondering the split of our nation and forming the Gettysburg address. I was in awe of the experience and so very greatful of this tradition.
Back to the picture. I am a self-admitted fame junkie. I don’t spend my life chasing down famous people, but I have no problem taking opportunity by the balls and getting a picture or autograph if the possibility presents itself. So I made sure I was standing in front of everyone when it came time to get the opportunity to meet The President! My husband made the mistake of moving at one point, so he wasn’t directly behind me when the President and First Lady were in front of me. He did get to shake Mrs. Obama’s hand! Which is probably when I was feeling her firm abs. She was leaning past me and my hand was holding my son up as she leaned into me. I can also confirm, because I am so short, the First Lady does indeed use deodorant. I was that close to her! Then the President noticed the flag on my son’s cheek. Without thinking, I asked if I could get a picture of him with my son. Fortunately the photographer was ready, because my phone picture didn’t come out great.
As I watched the State of the Union address tonight, I thought of this picture. I am referring to the first and professional photograph. Every time I look at it, I am blown away by the artistry of the shot. You have to get past my adorable Buzzsaw and your opinion of the President to see the beauty in this photograph. It’s all in the contrasts and how they blend together. Young and old. Black and white. My son looking straight ahead and in profile. The President looking down and facing the camera. The President smiling, my son looking soooo serious. My son wearing plaid and the President wearing a solid color; and how interestingly the shirts compliment each other. All of these differences in this photo, yet they work together to make something so beautiful. That is how I see my country. Our country.
We are all so very different and unique. Young and old. City and country. Male and female. Gay and straight. Religious and not religious. Republican and democrate. Rich and poor. Lazy and hardworking. And everything in between. We all make up this beautiful and amazing nation. Our founding fathers didn’t agree, it was their arguments and subsequent compromises that gave us all the opportunity to leave in a free land. They, somehow, were able to come up with a constitution that starts with us and survives by our will. We have forgotten that we were never meant to completely see eye-to-eye and live the exact same existence as our neighbors, friends, or family. My “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” is not the same as yours. And that’s okay! our Bill of Rights is at the beginning of our constitution for a reason. This country can not be this country without every one us and our freedoms. It takes our contrasts and differences to make it work. Our individual freedoms to think what we want, speak what we want, and believe what we want are the breath of life for this nation.
I am very frustrated with our political process. Republican candidates campaign on “social conservatism”, yet what they promise is actually big government by trying to regulate our individual freedoms. Our President wants to “level the playing field” and make sure we all have equal access to education, healthcare, and wealth; yet some of his methods are again, big government. This is not a new trend, it has been happening for a long time. We the people have forgotten our responsibility in this picture. We seem to think that if a candidate reads the same religious book, has our income, or agrees with us on, in my opinion, non– governmental issues such as marriage, sexuality, and abortion, somehow that person will make a good leader. How many times do we have to be disappointed before we realize that it is not our agreements that make us great; it is our compromises with each other that form the beautiful picture that is THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.