I’ve always considered myself to be an Australian who just happens to be living in America, married to an American man, and mUm to an American baby, yet, even with all this 'Americanness' attached to me, why don’t I feel like an official American?
You’d think somewhere spiraling around my busy mind, there’d be a humming ‘God Bless The USA’, or a ‘You got this girl’, but there just isn’t, and, it’s not because I don’t love America or am proud of my affiliation with her, I do, I am, but, I’m just not an American…yet!
Sure, I’ve lived in the US for over almost (8) years as a Permanent Resident, have a SS number, paid a crap load of taxes and with my hand on my heart, have quietly sang more than my share of the 'Star Spangled Banner', yet somehow, I’ve always felt like an outsider, looking in, sometimes, perhaps on purpose.
I’m an Australian citizen after all. I’ve spent the majority of my life chanting Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!. Oi!, Oi!, Oi!, so would it really be fare to my country or my heart to start yelling U.S.A?
Would I lose my ‘Australianess’, or, be ostracized by my fellow Aussies, simply because I love the USA and was so proud of hosting my first 4th July party complete with Captain America cake?
Then, a funny thing happened. While at a military retirement ceremony recently, the poem My Name is Old Glory
was presented by a young sailor, a poem that brilliantly and poignantly reflected the power and passion of the American Flag, through the eyes of the flag itself.
I am the flag of the United States of America
My name is Old Glory.
As I sat there and listened to the words that were being spoken, surrounded by American sailors young and old, my wall of stubbornness began to crack, and I felt a tear discretely slide itself down my cheek.
I have been a silent witness to all of America's finest hours.
But my finest hour comes
when I am torn into strips to be used for bandages
for my wounded comrades on the field of battle.
when I fly at half mast to honor my soldiers...
and when I lie in the trembling arms
of a grieving mother at the graveside of her fallen son.
In the eyes of every sailor, passion and patriotism for the flag, burned, yet it burned not out of obligation to a career that introduced them to the heartbreaks of war, just as it would have done to thousands of sailors decades ago. It burned because it wanted to, because in each sailor, each American, the American flag represents the fight for not what is in front of you, but what is behind you.
Perhaps it was the heat, or the fact that I’d been living on chicken breast and spinach for two weeks, or perhaps, it was just simply that, for the first time in (8) years, I truly understood what it meant to be an American.
I have been soiled, burned, torn and trampled on the streets of countries
I have helped set free.
It does not hurt . . . for I am invincible.
I have been soiled, burned, torn and trampled on the streets of my country,
and when it is by those with whom I have served in battle . . . it hurts.
But I shall overcome . . . for I am strong.
Pride, sacrifice, arrogance, reverence, heartbreak, and opportunity, these backbone words represent what I believe to be the heart of America, and, although I’m not an official American Australian just yet, in a few weeks I will be.
I know that when I do take the Oath, it will be with genuine pride, and, heck, I may even throw in a Crikey at the end!
SMSgt. Don S. Miller, USAF (Ret.). 'My Name is Old Glory'.