Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 4, 2001


America, the land of the free If you missed my column last week, I’m pleased you were interested enough to have looked for it. I had written it and sent it in very early because I was leaving town, but alas, I sent it to the wrong address. This week we celebrate the independence of our country; a nation well-respected, courageous, envied and desired by most and highly resented by others. History and the lives we lead does tell us it is “the land of the free” and today’s veterans of foreign wars and those names on the Vietnam memorial, Korean memorial and others confirm it truly is the “home of the brave.” Also confirming these truisms are the families who have given up their loved ones so the rest of us could remain free. At least, that is how I see it. I have always considered myself a true patriot of my country and would never go against it. I wish I could remember the celebrity who said very recently that he felt very dedicated to his country, but not to its government. I can understand it because I am tired of seeing power plays, too, and I wish that everything done would be for the good of the country and not for so much self-interest in playing the “politics” game. Still, we have the best country in the world and those who appreciate it most seem to be the immigrants who have chosen it. Remem-ber Nadia Comenici, the gymnastic gold medal Olympian who married another Olympian gold medalist, Bart Conner? She struggled to get here under extremely adverse conditions, has just become an American citizen and said “this is some country.” It makes me proud when someone embraces my country because they believe in it. My own ancestors did that! Last week, returning from a Kansas City, Mo. family reunion which I’ll tell you about later, we went through Branson, Mo. B-I-L O’Neil and Phyllis go there all the time so they picked the shows we had time to see. It was a great choice because their favorite was the extravaganza put on by violinist/fiddler Shoji Tabuchi. It was indeed a great show and the native Japanese pays tribute to his adopted country at the end. He wears a sequined jacket replicating the American flag and his dancers and musicians do likewise. Tabuchi speaks of his pride in the opportunity offered him by America and attributes his success to it. We all need to have more pride instead of taking our freedoms for granted. Years ago, Pat Lucia (now Austin) and I were traveling companions and took many trips together, sometimes camping along the way. Once, while spending the night in the Painted Dessert of Arizona, we were invited to share the campfire of several French citizens. They had come to this country, New York, as a large group and had split up to do whatever they wanted. This man and woman chose to rent a camper to come west. The four of us sat there in the moonlight, surrounded by a beautiful dessert and experiencing the warmth of a crackling fire. The man talked about his group which had chosen to see the big cities and more exotic sights. He paused for a moment and looked around at the stars in the sky and in a warm, meaningful moment I will always remember, said “But this – this is America.” Yes, it is, so happy Independence Day! ANNA MONICA, a resident of Garyville, writes this column regularly for L’Observateur.