Memorial Day. Pools everywhere open for the season. Grills are fired up. Sparkles are sparkling. That’s what it’s always been—a day off and a homecoming party for our good friend summer. I wouldn’t say I grew up without a patriotic heart; I knew all the words to the national anthem and belt out the alto part with my sisters. But, Memorial Day was more about burgers and hammocks than the red, white, and blue.
This weekend marks my 37th Memorial Day. Along the journey of the last several, my heart swelled for those stars and stripes and all they represent.
Four years ago, when I rode those escalators up to the 5th floor of an office building in Guangzhou, I rose my right hand and took an oath of truth, the last step in a 3-year journey that started before the life of the little one I wore on my side started. Our Chinese translators were not allowed into the room with us, a room packed full of American citizens who all either cradled or held the little hands of Chinese children who were nearly American citizens too. Despite the nearly tangible fatigue of red tape in that room, I could almost hear the sound of the national anthem in my heart as I saw the freedom I have in a new way.
I’ve never been more grateful for the sacrifice of the brave before me as I am now. I have never felt as indebted to those who have fought the fight and continue to do so to protect the freedom that I live everyday as a wife and mother of four — one of whom was not born to me within these borders but who now calls it her home too.
I don’t agree with all American policies. There are all sorts of things awry here, I know, but politics and patriotism are not the same thing. And, perhaps international adoptive parents should be the most patriotic of all, not in an egocentric or arrogant sort of way at all but with deep gratitude for those who have paid the greatest price for our peace and freedom, a freedom that allows our family to be a family.
The sun is shining today, and the air is just warm enough to tease us to go to the pool and try taking a dip in the water that still feels like spring. We’ll grill cheeseburgers, and my husband and I will sit together out back while the kids ride scooters in our driveway. Traditions are sweet especially when they help us celebrate a day that means more now to me than it did before. The freedom so many people have given their lives for is what has made our family what it is.
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!