Today is November 11th, the day that America has chosen to remember the men and women who serve and have served the United States in the Armed forces. I am not in the United States at present; in fact, I am living in another country where today is just another day in the neighborhood. It is precisely for this reason that, being in my present circumstance, I appreciate all the more the sacrifices of those who lay down their own lives for the sake of their country.
As I live in Italy, playing basketball and living a little boy's dream, I have been able to catch small glimpses of how the rest of the world sees the United States. Some of the notions that my teammates and people I have met have of the United States are humorous; everyone is not rich, we do not eat McDonalds for every meal, and all the women do not look like Pamela Anderson. Which is just as laughable as me as thinking that Italians eat nothing but pasta, drink only the finest of wines, and have at least one family member with major Mafia connections.
But across the board, for all her problems, America is still viewed as a land of great hope and opportunity. Say what you will about the economic crisis, the political climate or what have you; try finding someone who would not want to live in the United States.
Granted, America is having her problems as of late. But the thing that strikes me as I look at my passport, with artwork on the inside front cover depicting Francis Scott Key watching the bombardment of Fort McHenry, is that men and women have gone to war regardless of the state in which America finds herself. When Fort McHenry was being pounded mercilessly by the British Navy, America as a land of opportunity was not yet reality. It was hope. For the men and women serving in Afghanistan, they still serve regardless of the opinion of those at home who bash the war. These men and women still fight and die just so that we as Americans can say, without fear of prosecution or worse, how much we do not like what they are doing. Because of their service, I have my passport that allows me to come live my dream. Even though I am not living within the United States' borders, I still enjoy the opportunities of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
So here's to you, American men and women serving at home and abroad in the Armed Forces. Here is my personal thanks for your service which allows this American to enjoy so much. It is because of your bravery that so many look to the United States as a place where there is fertile ground for the seed of hopes and dreams. Thank you.