The spirit of my people is wedded to this land.
The bones of my Ancestors lie in a small churchyard in rural Kentucky, a place without cell phone reception and filled with people who may have never seen a plane fly over their heads. There, among those secluded stones, rest nearly every one of my Kin that walked the clays, sand, and dirt we now label the United States.
Generation after generation, all brought to one place, and practically holding hands in union. I can remember setting eyes on it that first time, walking up a hill 860 miles from home to witness the collected essence of the streams my heart rowed upon.
My family is an old one, migrating from Germany to Pennsylvania in 1650, nearly fifty years before the Seminoles ever set foot in Florida. In one generation they moved to the hills of Kentucky, becoming farmers and staying put until my own Grandfather became enamored with palm trees and bright, sunny weather.
We would fight in the Revolutionary War, one of the many families that believed enough in a life without England to kill for it. We would soak the roots of the Republic in blood again in the Civil War, fighting on the side of the Union to break the back of the Confederacy.
One of my greatest joys is to remind my fellow Southerners that my grandpappy whooped their grandpappy’s ass. Regularly.
From there we would serve in nearly every conflict the American flag called for: we died in a cloud of poison gas, went island hopping in the Pacific, helped to establish the DMZ, came back from Vietnam alive, and even aided our first misadventure in the Middle East. The women in my family would inject much needed education and sophistication all throughout, as well as an Italian passion to smooth out the rougher edges of a farmland upbringing. My great-grandmother brought her children a love of Spirit and a taste for intelligent discourse, a gift my grandfather was kind enough to foster in me.
To say my family, my Ancestors, are tied up in the history of this Nation would be an understatement. We made this country, in every sense of the word, and plowed the farmlands of Kentucky before it even existed.
Which is why I plan on being here long after it’s gone.
There are those I know that have made a calculated decision to leave these shores due to an increasingly oppressive political atmosphere sprouting up like ants at a picnic. I cannot blame them, and the benefits they’ll gain from joining other societies or continents as refugees are very real: better healthcare, cheaper living, and a much needed repose from the violent, chaotic existence we call American living.
Let me preface all this by saying I do not look down upon those who relocate. For many the risks are too great, the rewards too good, and the history not worth saving.
Who could argue? A cursory view of the United States leaves the eye wondering just what should be spared from the torch.
But there will be plenty of beautiful words and vibrant essays written for those on the way out and those soon to join them. As my kin did in 1650 so shall theirs, and their names will be perhaps whispered in tones of wonder. How brave were these immigrants, to leave all they knew in the hopes for a better life? New songs, new words, fresh fashion. There will be, if the migration is ever large enough, entirely new cultures born from the communities of these immigrants just like the colonists of old.
Further may I say these words are not a song of praise or hope for the tottering giant we call the United States, a nostalgic look at the Stars and Stripes that once spread across two oceans and threatened the world with nuclear apocalypse. Unlike my forebears I view these relics of civic religion with nothing but disdain, symbols of a sport I never liked and never planned to play.
But I’d like to take the time and perhaps share my feelings on the matter, for my own peace and those like me who either stay by choice or by gravest necessity….
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