The girls are asleep, and the Hound of the Basketballs snores beside me. As I sit on the sofa, I count blessings.
I’m blessed to live in a country where the sons and daughters of firefighters and old-soldiers-turned-cabdrivers could meet, marry, and build lives from an apartment over a drugstore to a home in the burbs. I’m blessed to have been born in a nation where that cabdriver’s son could go from seeking a job on a loading dock to becoming one of the top professionals in a technical field. I’m blessed to live in a nation where I, in turn, was told that my life could be what I would make of it, and in a land of second chances that allowed me to change careers and wind up doing something I love. I’m blessed to live in a country where my wife could rise from Appalachian poverty and spend her careers offering children the beginnings of a path up from their own poverty years later. I’m blessed to live where I can read, write, and think, and where my daughter can dream and create.
This is my country, and it’s proof — as is my life, as were the lives of my parents and grandparents — that freedom united with wisdom and the desire for self-improvement can work. As much as I mistrust the people who would prefer that we be subjects rather than citizens, and as much as I sometimes fear for my country’s future, I trust in Adam Smith’s observation that there’s a great deal of ruin in a country, and a vast amount left in ours. Happy birthday, America.