America. The Beautiful.

America. The Beautiful.

After a long day of being outside on land that I thank God every day for allowing me to live on, I collapsed into bed and turned on the television to lull myself into a sleepy time wonderland where I’m eating carne asada tacos with Ted Cruz, discussing his Cabinet appointees.  The channel is HGTV, of course, because I like to yell at people who base their whole house hunting decision on the paint color in the basement.  The show is “House Hunters International” and I see a young mother earnestly say, “we want to expose our children to different cultures and learning experiences, so we are packing up our three toddlers, capriciously quitting our jobs, and moving to a socialist country where we don’t speak the language, will be unable to afford living in a one bedroom hovel with no refrigerator, and hostile café waiters will splash hot latte all over us”.  And the camera zooms in on her three little kids who don’t appear to be thrilled with the prospect of weird food.

What are these people thinking?  How do you “expose” a toddler and very young children to “culture” when little tykes are only interested in a very small sphere of “culture” that can be summed up in three words….security, sustenance, and love.  Why are they voluntarily leaving a country that, to me, offers the best of everything a young child (or anyone, for that matter) wants and needs?  Even with uncertainty and political turmoil, our country still offers such a plethora of natural wonders, cultures, and exceptional people that exceeds anything else in the world.  People risk everything to get into this country and I know illegal “immigrants” more appreciative of our country then citizens.  Are people so jaded, spoiled and snobby that they have to drag their kids to live in other countries to experience “culture”?

I don’t like the way the media portrays living abroad as so much better and culturally interesting than living here, at home, in America.  I definitely don’t like the way people so casually under-appreciate the many varied blessings staying put, here, in their own country, brings.  How did it become so easy and effortless to discard and reject America in favor of a life in a foreign land just because it looks charming and you eat on a sidewalk?  It doesn’t make any sense for a young mother to decide it’s better for her small children to live amongst strangers in a strange land rather than invest her efforts into “exposing” her children to America.  Wouldn’t it be better for her to teach her young children our own profoundly unique history?  Show them all the many “cultures” that exist right here, in a country so diverse and varied, those kids would never lack for “learning experiences”.  And to teach them how very lucky they are to live here, in America.  Because I believe with all my heart…..America IS exceptional.  No matter how Obama and his minions (the only “exceptionalism” they believe in is their own) want to drag us down to third world socialistic status.  We Americans are complicated, diverse, hopeful, generous, industrious, proud, boisterous, brave, pretty damn funny, and really quite wonderful.  THIS country is where it’s AT.  I’m humbled by the sacrifices made by so many to pioneer, build, and protect this country and regardless of the disdain our President shows for our origins and our traditions, this country is the most exceptional and most beautiful place on earth.

I’m not a curmudgeon who sits at home yelling at the television.  I’ve done my fair share of travel overseas.  The world is full of lots of interesting people, places, food, art, and history.   It’s the world….of course it’s big and amazing.    Travel does give one new ideas and insights into being human.  I appreciate it all, and it’s fun to see and experience new and different cultures, but that doesn’t mean I need to move there to be better or happier.  I understand people wanting to take trips to different countries to add to their life experience.  Those situations are called…”vacations”.   As my very wise Mom used to say, “Bloom where you’re planted”.

With every trip I’ve made abroad, short or long, I just couldn’t wait to come home to America and when I did, it was with a grateful heart.  No matter how great the food was or how glorious the cathedral, nothing I experienced in another country compared to flying home over fields of amber grain. 


So, tell me.  Tell me in the comments some of YOUR favorite American places.  The landmark, the dive bar, the food truck, the old guy who sells newspapers, the ballpark, the big oak tree with your initials, the secret canyon, the museum of yarn, your neighbor.  Tell me what makes America so special to YOU.

Maybe that young mother can be convinced to stay here… to show her children all the glories of America.

Because while the world IS full of “interesting people, places, food, art, and history”, I believe America has all those things…and so much more….in spades.

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  • Craig says:

    How fortuitous I was just thinking along these lines! It was last Saturday, Bluestone High School, Virginia. It was a High School Band Competition. Bands come from Virginia, North Carolina, from miles away annually to compete and play for the small crowd in an old rural high school, miles from any metropolis or even medium sized city. The Bologna Burger is the favorite local specialty. (yes, that’s right ) In those high-schoolers you can see the dedication, but also the fun-loving humor of people who despite all the garbage we go though want to get out there and play, march and perform, just for the sake of doing it. Racial divide? Forget it. Political polarization? Not at issue. It’s flag twirling, trumpet solos, booming drums, and lines of flutes and low brass.
    There on that afternoon, my confidence in America was reborn.

  • Laureen says:

    My backyard–with it’s view of MY city (even with the smog a few days out of the year); the California coastline (absolutely NOTHING better); my mountains (Arrowhead, Big Bear–even though I don’t ski or snowboard); the Desert (Palm Springs is beautiful and full of REAL CULTURE); crazy Los Angeles and Hollywood (it’s crazy and traffic sucks–like every big city–but FULL OF CULTURE and beauty); I could go on. I am thankful that technology has made the world a smaller place–the perfect opportunity to teach is right at our fingertips! Literally!

  • sierra says:

    I “homeschool” 2 middle school girls, and every morning we say the pledge of allegiance together. There are times when I feel like a fraud saying it, because I wonder if the country I know and love really will stand much longer. But then I realize how amazing we still are, and how we MUST hold fast to those ideals, because really, so much of our exceptionalism still DOES exist. I hope I can teach my students how truly amazing we are.

    • Catherine Wilkinson says:

      YOU are not the fraud, Sierra…those idiots in Washington are the real frauds…you are a patriot and I’m so happy to hear that you are passing this on to your students. Thank you!

  • Merle says:

    Jaded, spoiled & snobby? Yes.
    Don’t forget brainwashed.


  • Dale says:

    Yes, I hate it also when the US is derided for not having a culture, Hmmm, who here has ever had to pay a policeman just to drive down the street, or give up half their income to the local strongman? An Indian friend of mine was talking about when a well known politician was shot, he rushed to a friends hose and they barricaded the door, trapped for 3 days by riots.
    “Culture” is more than spicy food and a darker skin tone-

    • Catherine Wilkinson says:

      Yes, my thoughts exactly….we are the luckiest citizens on earth and so many don’t realize how the rest of the world live…it’s romanticized and sterilized. That’s why these people that want to go experience culture usually end up with culture SHOCK.

  • Darlene says:

    I’ve lived in so many places over the years…and all of them were and are beautiful. Right now we live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, close to the shore of Lake Superior. When I feel like I can’t take one more piece of crap from DC, I walk along the beach and watch the waves come in, just like they have for thousands of years, and I realize that the current situation will pass away. The only truth is God, and He will endure forever.

    • Catherine Wilkinson says:

      That is the truth, Darlene….I do the same….go tramping around the mountains and just be quiet with God…works like a charm. Thank you for sharing your place.

  • Deebow says:

    People who haven’t been to 38 countries (some of us have gotten around in the Military) will never know what it is like to think about food hile you are away and equate it to sex. I mean, talking about it and thinking about it in the same way. Spend some time eating the local flavor anywhere in the world but here and you will truly appreciate a 5 guys burger and fries.

    I give thanks every day for the gift of being born in America and having a chance to grow up in the Mountain West.

  • Nina says:

    Laramie Peak, the native hay waving in the wind in front of my parents ranch house, sitting on the bank of the Laramie River after either a long day of work or a big hike, the hometown diner, the view from the top of my favorite ski hill (Copper), and the fun of exploring places in the US I travel to for work.

  • GWB says:

    I give thanks that I have been to 30 countries in my life. I’ve even lived in one. I can make my home anywhere, if need be, and there are a few places where it might be pleasant to do so.

    Having said that, I am even more grateful to have lived or travelled in all 50 states and two territories. I have made my home in several of them. I have travelled across this country – coast to coast, corner to corner, top to bottom, by plane, train, and automobile. Even the boring or extreme parts are beautiful in their own way – whether it’s miles of wheat or miles of desert. (Yes, wheat can be booooring when you’re driving through it for hour upon hour!) I’ve seen snow in June, and grilled on the beach for Christmas. There’s not a single piece of it with which I would willingly part.

    But, the most important thing I’ve seen is the people, living free. Everywhere liberty survives is a beautiful place. If all of us that love liberty were forced to go live in the worst portion of the New mexico desert, we would soon turn it into a paradise. It’s what you do with liberty.

    Asia has grander mountains than the Rockies, Europe has fantastic castles and cathedrals (furniture isn’t even antique there unless it’s older than our entire country), Africa might have greater natural resources. But, freedom set us apart from the beginning, and IT is what made us America.

    Thank you for this essay, Catherine. My favorite place in America right now is right here. 🙂

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