Thirty TV’s at a center court kiosk, displayed in full quadraphonic stereo, the Three Tenors, singing the Star Spangled Banner!  MY Star Spangled Banner.  And they weren’t making it “their own”.  As they reached full voice on the line “the land of the free. . .”, I bawled openly.  By the time they got to “. . .and the home, of the brave.” I was a puddle.  And I didn’t care who saw.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 (photo from the World Trade Center Memorial)

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Today I am grateful for veteran’s and the day to celebrate them.  I thought I understood what it meant to be an American, but I really didn’t.  Not until I moved to Jakarta, Indonesia and became an expatriate for three years.

 

           

 

Early in my adventure I wanted to learn about the Indonesian government, but even those who spoke English would not share.  They’d smile, point to their ears, look at the sky and shake their heads no.  They were afraid. There was no freedom of speech. 

 

           

 

I gave up on learning the politics and continued my daily quests to get basic needs met.  In the sweltering heat and pollution of Jakarta, each venture outside the hotel was difficult.  Eventually we moved into a house and I began to enmesh myself into my Indonesian neighborhood.  I made friends.  Good friends.  Some German, some Australian, some American, some Dutch, and many Indonesians. 

 

           

 

One day, when I was hot, sweaty, frustrated, sick-to-death of struggling to figure out how to thrive in this foreign place, borderline angry and in a dangerously homesick state of confusion, I rounded a corner in the huge marble-floored Plaza Indonesia Mall.  The sound of unmistakably familiar music blasted me to attention! 

 

 

 

Thirty TV’s at a center court kiosk, displayed in full quadraphonic stereo, the Three Tenors, singing the Star Spangled Banner!  MY Star Spangled Banner.  And they weren’t making it “their own”.  As they reached full voice on the line “the land of the free. . .”, I bawled openly.  By the time they got to “. . .and the home, of the brave.” I was a puddle.  And I didn’t care who saw.

 

 

 

I am so very grateful to the brave veterans, men and women, who have sacrificed in the past; for those who continue to sacrifice now; and for the young people who will choose to sacrifice in the future, so that I can have the freedom to stand proudly in a foreign country and bawl during my own national anthem.  Thank you. . .and the families you leave behind. . .times a billion!

 

I am so very grateful to the brave veterans, men and women, who have sacrificed in the past; for those who continue to sacrifice now; and for the young people who will choose to sacrifice in the future, so that I can have the freedom to stand proudly in a foreign country and bawl during my own national anthem.  Thank you. . .and the families you leave behind. . .times a billion!