CHARLESTON, W.Va. - My friend Lisa was telling me about a recent rushed morning at their house. She had just finished showering when her 7-year-old daughter, Emma, barged in and was immediately distracted by the steamy window. Unable to resist the lure of drawing in steam, she scrawled a message.
"I (heart) America."
So charmed was Lisa by her daughter's combination of patriotism and innocence that she took a picture of the message.
"It probably sounds silly that even though we were all running late, I stopped what I was doing to take a picture of what Emma had written," Lisa said. "It just hit me so hard. I'm not even sure why."
There was something about Emma's message that affected me the same way. Her simple statement made me wonder what I would've chosen to (heart) if given a steamy window to write on. Even as much as I love our country, it wouldn't have been the first thought that came to my mind. I'm not even sure how far past the sound of the ocean and the taste of champagne I would've had to go before it occurred to me that America should be on my list. It isn't a lack of patriotism or dissatisfaction with how things are or have been in our country, it's simply something I've been fortunate enough to take for granted.
In school, children Emma's age are learning the very best about America every day. It's all fresh and wonderful, and likely helps them feel safe. Their world is plentiful with protectors - parents and police, firemen and military, teachers and doctors, clergy and coaches. People who look out for their needs.
They're taught the Pledge of Allegiance and patriotic songs; they learn how our country was discovered and how we tamed the wild West. They learn how we choose our own leaders and make our own laws, how we have programs in place to take care of those who need help and punishment for those who break the rules.
When you look at our country from the perspective of a 7-year-old, it's a wonderful place. They only see that these programs and safeguards are there, not the problems and loopholes and abuse.