originally published in THE PENN

Marching 7/4 written by Lori Ferguson

Issue date: 3/21/05 Section: Opinion

When I was on the air at WIUP-FM, the tune I played so often it may as well have signaled my presence in the booth is Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.” This is a song that I proudly played every chance I got, for this ballad is the epitome of what it means to be an American. If it were up to me, I would vote this song as the national anthem of our proud homeland.It’s easy to take our way of life for granted if we grow up with only a rudimentary knowledge of what life would be like if we were born elsewhere. This is our reality, and it can be difficult to conceive of the reality of people in other nations.In America, we have a wide selection of faiths through which we can worship our chosen higher power. We can freely go and purchase or borrow Bibles or other religious texts.I didn’t realize that in some countries a person could face dire persecution for simply having a single page out of the Bible or holding a worship service!I could fill an entire issue of The Penn with reasons why we are living in a promised land! Which leads me to quote Lee Greenwood’s beautiful song: “And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died who gave that right to me.”At the tender age of 10, I began collecting ads from the TV Guide for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines — dreaming of being one of these protectors of our beautiful land.It was not my path in life to serve our country in this manner, so I give out a hearty “thank you” to all those men and women who are now and have been the blessed people who keep our land free! I do not even want to envision what our country would be like if it were not for their sacrifice.I also salute the often unsung heroes of our nation — the family members who make the great sacrifice of supporting these warriors, managing their daily lives without the assistance of the wife, husband, son, daughter or other loved one who is far away, charged with the call to protect our freedom.Without this support system, our soldiers wouldn’t have the backbone to get them through their heroic tasks.While we may not be one of these directly affected by the defense of our nation, we can still do our share by helping out those left behind who need our support. Whether it be a simple letter of thanks and support, a donation that will benefit a service member’s family or pitching in directly by helping out a family in need of a baby sitter or other household task, we can all do our part to defend our way of life.God bless the U.S.A.!