Ross Mackenzie

If we are family, we also are a unique one -- just as Thanksgiving is a celebration unique among countries. No other has an annual occasion quite like it. Ben Franklin wanted to make the national bird not the eagle but the turkey. That would have made for a uniqueness of a separate sort.

Some who should know better contend America is hardly exceptional and no better than your average tinpot dictatorship -- its citizenry terrorized, cowed, mediocre, blah. They are just as wrong in that as in their apologies for the very audacity to suggest a freedom-inspired American superiority.

WHAT makes America different? The liberty at its heart, the same liberty that is mankind's ultimate cause. As Lincoln noted at Gettysburg, America was "conceived in liberty."

People clamor to come here. These are the "tempest-tossed...yearning to breathe free" (Emma Lazarus' words bronzed onto the Statue of Liberty). They risk death eluding machine-gunners and scaling walls that tyrannies and autocracies, ochlocracies (government by the worst men) and kakistocracies (mob rule), build to keep them in. America constructs walls, or it should, to keep illegals out.

(A nation that does not secure its borders, like a nation that does not stabilize its currency, is a nation counting down its days.)

Yes, prospective immigrants want American opportunity and justice and equality. Yet ultimately they seek the liberty that is their Grail, their beauty and their truth -- the freedom that is the single ingredient making possible all the other coveted elements inhering in the American idea.

*****

So: Starting this Thanksgiving, our toast of thanks will contain a new line between the existing lines 3 and 4:

And especially America, this good land --

Rather than leaving it out any longer, what better occasion to begin including in the family toast a national family boisterous and argumentative -- cranky, yappy, and schlumpy. Why not?

For America -- sweet land of liberty -- 'tis of thee we sing.


Ross Mackenzie

Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.

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