Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Who is American (or should I say United States ian)

Our children chose to serve in their father's footsteps- in the military. The military is a different way of life. We have socialized medicine. Paychecks are almost secure (we remember the delay from Clinton "turning off the lights"). The community tends to be much more conservative than the norm. They are, in general, well traveled and pretty well read.

There is some question about President Obama not being fully American because he spent formative years overseas. His mother was a worker for the poor. She helped women start small companies to support their family. Usually, in the conservative groups - that is admirable...

I began thinking about us. My son was 5 and daughter 6 when we moved to Hong Kong. They learned to ride a double decker bus to soccer practice and dine at stalls instead of restaurants. They learned that giving to the beggar at the bus stop was a normal way and the people who lived in the tin huts near our high rise were selling the food they got at the market. They also learned that going to Mass was a privilege in a nearby country of China. It was basically us and the other foreigners- no one else dared.
At 7 and 8 they moved to Hawaii- in a Japanese/American neighborhood- and learned what prejudice felt like. Still, it was the US and people, in general, spoke English (never after school though- only Japanese). We were treated very much the same when we attempted to live in a small town after the service. How dare we interfer with their perfectly American place!
At 9 and 10 we moved to Saudi Arabia. They learned to live on a compound . They learned that mom could be spotted anywhere because her hair always peeped out of the scarf or her abia could not seem to stay shut. They learned not to near the main mosque on Thursday- for a body may be hanging there. They learned that there are lots of great people who cared for our wounded when a not so great group bombed their dad's building killing two of their "group dad" friends.
My children were overseas for several of their formative years. My personal belief that it is because of the understanding of what America represents- freedom from fear, freedom of worship, freedom of hope- they choose to serve their country. They did not complain that they may be "forced" into serving the country they love. (I really don't get that one).
Me thinks that often children who do not understand utter poverty, or utter fear for safety would have a difficult time understanding why a child who spent their "formative years" overseas" has such a desire to serve.

1 comment:

Christina said...

I am in the thick of my "Cultural Awareness for Educators" class; this is a question we have been mulling over and discussing in depth. I've used examples from YOUR class several times... :>)