The Land of the Free

I have no idea where my husband read or watched it, but years ago he saw an interview with an astronaut. The man being interviewed was asked what it took to do all that he does, and his response was something along the lines of, “It’s like when you’re exhausted and want nothing more than to go to bed. You must have the stamina to get up and do the pile of dishes sitting in the sink. No matter what, you never leave them for the morning.”‘


For years now when I am just about to collapse and can barely muster up the energy to climb the stairs and curl up under the covers after a full day of chasing little rascals around, my husband reminds me, “Well, you just wouldn’t make the cut tonight then. No trips to the moon for you.” To be honest, on nights such as these a bowl of chocolate ice cream would motivate me much more than the reminder of the failed opportunity to be the first person on Mars. But once upon a time back in third grade with Mrs. Chamberlain, his attempt at inspiring me just might have worked. I dreamed of climbing into that rocket, listening to the countdown, blasting through the atmosphere, and experiencing that weightlessness known only to the few who have been there before. How amazing would it be to look down at the world and see the swirling clouds, the blue oceans, and the white, snow-capped mountains? Being an astronaut was my deepest eight-year-old desire.

I also dreamed of becoming a ballerina dancing on stage in a pretty pink tutu. A magician, a lawyer, an explorer, an English teacher, a soccer coach, a journalist, a children’s book author, a financial advisor, and an elementary school teacher. Throughout my life I’ve imagined many futures for myself, but none could compare to that of being a mom.


My boys dream of being farmers. They imagine driving the big tractors, milking their cows, caring for their chickens, and picking award-winning potatoes from their rows of produce. Possibly even raising dinosaurs. But that’s not all. They want to fly airplanes just like Great-Grandpa E, become astronauts, builders like Grandpa T, inventors just like Dad and Grandpa W. They have lofty aspirations, grand plans, and big imaginations. 


And why not? Sure, it would take lots of hard work, education, dedication, sacrifice, and time. But they could do it. The opportunity is there. The opportunity is there because thousands have made it so. They have recognized that freedom to choose and opportunity for anyone to succeed is the American dream, and it’s a dream worth dying for. I feel so blessed to raise my children in a country that has those freedoms, because many are not so fortunate.

The freedoms we enjoy in America is something to be proud of, to celebrate, and to give us hope. We can choose. Because of that, men and women who may not have succeeded had they not been given that opportunity to rise above their circumstances have changed our world. In our country, unlike so many others, anyone can get an education, anyone can work, anyone can change their fate. Choices are everywhere waiting to be made.


So my sons, whether it be a farmer, a builder, an astronaut, or a pilot. A butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker. You can. Dream big and work hard. Generations of men and women have sacrificed so that you can make a future for yourself, so don’t let them down. You have opportunities so many others will never imagine. What you have is special, unique, and truly amazing. You have freedom to choose. Freedom to create a life you want to live. Freedom to worship, freedom to dream. Dear boys, please never take that for granted.


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