America — land of the free, home of the brave. The global epicenter of possibilities where hope abounds, dreams are fulfilled and compassion is boundless, endless and colorless. We are a country of overcomers, givers, supporters, survivors and victors.
To her, every stranger becomes a guest, friend, resident and citizen. She has a very maternal nature. Her arms are open to welcome, foster and adopt the broken, blended and bordered families. She is a melting pot of all, comprised of immigrants and citizens of every tradition, language and hue.
One of her great symbols, the Statue of Liberty has an inscription that reads, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” It is the embodiment of this message that when people arrive, they kiss her sacred soil.
America is also a country that is loved, envied, desired, loathed and admired around the world. She provokes the awe of her admirers and the ire of her enemies. Many have fled their own country and forsaken their family to forever dwell with her.
She is tempting and tantalizing without being flirtatious. Her tapestry is bold, subtle, textured, opaque, nuanced and diverse. It is a place where everyone and anyone can belong and call home. Visitors aspire to be residents. Tourist wish they were natives. They bathe, bask and baptize in her grandeur.
Her breathtaking beauty can be seen in the magnificent magnolias, mountains and red mud in the South; the distinctive four seasons and iconic firsts like Michael Jordan, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Mae Jemison from the North; the ever-rising Rockies, redwoods and retirement communities in the West; and the architecture, artistry and audacious attitude of the East.
She is a constant presence of contradictions, provoking curiosity and indifference, engagement and withdrawal, unity and division. She is humble, yet bodacious, patient, yet hurried, stagnant, yet ever-changing. She is temperamental and rarely predictable, which is part of her alluring and enticing attraction.
On her best days, she appears in her finest regalia inspiring awe, pride and admiration. Her symbolism evokes criticism and controversy as well as reconciliation and redemption.
America has her flaws, faults and frailties. There are some days she wakes up with matted hair and a bad mood. It’s on those days that we see her blemishes of internal insolence, disparaging disagreements and tactless transgressions.
She is comprised of 50 amazing states with distinct personalities of their own. Fifty stars, 13 stripes and one flag, representing the history of our fights and our freedoms. Many of us pledge allegiance to this flag — one nation under God, indivisible, with justice and liberty for all. America’s star-spangled flag is mostly revered and sometimes desecrated. It is lowered at half staff, draped over caskets, folded and presented to the families of soldiers who served our beloved country.
Her strength and resilience are part of her magnetism. The world has seen her respond to Sept. 11, Sandy Hook, Hurricane Katrina and George Floyd. From each of these tragedies, America rebounded as a stronger, more cohesive nation, representing a beacon of hope and shelter for all.
Her spirit has been influenced by heart-held values and profound messages of hope: “In God we Trust.” “E Pluribus Unum” (“Out of many, one”). “Ask not what your country can do for you for. Ask what you can do for your country” (President John F. Kennedy). “I have a dream” (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.). “Yes, we can” (President Barack H. Obama).
America — an amazing country with cities that “never sleep” (New York City), have “big shoulders” (Chicago), and are “different by nature” (Salt Lake City). She is inviting and inspiring. She lifts, affirms, serves and protects. She offers hope, opportunity and freedom for all. She is not perfect, but she is certainly beautiful.
Theresa A. Dear is a national board member of the NAACP and a contributor to the Deseret News.