My dad, an immigrant, recently told "The Ukrainian's" parents, also immigrants, that being in America is great, because we can do basically do whatever we want.
I wake up each day knowing this, but to me, it's so expected that I don't give it a second thought and yes, take it for granted. I am infinitely thankful that my parents decided to continue their lives here, a foreign place where they felt/feel a bit out of their element. On that same vein, I'm glad that others who have brought over the ideas that make this country what it is to have made that same decision.
Grew up poor? No problem... you can work your way up, to an extent. Don't like our president? Sure, go ahead and diss him. Want to marry someone outside of your race (and maybe soon, inside your gender)? Deal with the disappointment of your parents, but the paperwork is still yours for the filling.
I have had SO much opportunity here. I get paid without having to physically toil or work on most weekends. I pretty much have everything I could want and am not frequently put down because of my gender or ethnic background.
Eleven years ago, I was listening to the local hip-hop station, notorious for its off-the-wall jokes, while my older sister was driving me to school. The host, "Big Boy," announced that the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane. Thinking that it was a distasteful joke, I walked into the hallway in front of my first period class and saw it was already open and filled with students, not from my class, eyes glued to the television.
It was no joke. And seriously, it took me nearly a month to be able to concentrate again. My grades weren't the best during this time because I literally tried to watch the coverage each time I was doing my homework, felt the sadness, and in the back of my mind, I was worrying about whether there was more to come or what.
Later on, we were forced to write a paper in our English class about why war is "evil." I think there was some quote that was used to open the prompt, but it was strange that we were asked to write of this whether we agreed or disagreed with that notion.
I never sat in an airplane before this time, so the first time I did, I finally got to see what all the hoopla about taking off your shoes and security screening was all about. Pulling in and out my quart baggie and laptop over and over again and even having my luggage searched once because I was carrying too many running medals feels warranted and expected. On a recent flight, I was randomly selected for "further screening," and I obliged with no tinge of annoyance at all. Each time I fly, I am reminded of that day and am thankful to have the freedom to fly and the peace-of-mind that comes from others looking out for our safety.
I will end with a note about this election season -- please educate yourselves and make a choice -- while no choice is perfect, your ability to vote is one of those things that your predecessors wished they would have had. Also, in general, politics is not worth fighting over with your friends or significant others. Have your beliefs, but you might not want to have them alone.