On This President’s Day – God Bless America

“God Bless America – land that I love.”

Yesterday, I was scrolling through my iPod for something fresh to listen to, but I couldn’t find anything. I don’t know how that’s possible with a thousand songs always at my fingertips, but nothing was really appealing to me. I guess I was in one of those moods, where the sounds amplified through my car speakers annoys me more than soothes me.

I finally landed on Celine Dion’s memorable version of Irving Berlin’s 1918 patriotic song, “God Bless America” – which Berlin wrote while serving in the US Army at Camp Upton in Yaphank, New York.

Much like Christmas tunes, it’s not the kind of music I typically listen to on my way to and from work, but it had been a while since the last time I listened to it so I figured, why not.

Dion’s version was recorded and released shortly after the 9/11 attacks. I remember that song was played on just about every radio station in existence for months after the unimaginable events of that day.

It was a time when red, white and blue flags waived proudly from every house, on every block in America. I remember feeling a sense of pride as everyone united together as a community, as Americans – putting aside our differences to show our loyalty and appreciation to our home sweet home.

A few years after 9/11, you still could find that sense of patriotism across this great land. But as the years passed and time inevitably moves on, flags were no longer commonplace. Suddenly we had forgotten about all the lives that were lost and the thousands of American soldiers now defending our freedom overseas. I’m just as guilty as anybody.

The lyrics state, “God Bless America, land that I love. Stand beside her, and guide her through the night with a light from above. From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans, white with foam. God bless America, My home sweet home.”

Here’s hoping that we all start remembering that freedom doesn’t come without a cost, and many lives continue to be lost in defense of that luxury. I suppose it’s easy to get caught up in our own lives and the material values we deem so important day to day, but nothing can replace just how fortunate we are to be Americans.