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America The Amazing

July 2, 2009

The United States of America is celebrating its 233 birthday this July 4th.  To understand fully how truly young our country is, let me provide a little perspective.   Most are aware that the vast majority of other countries and civilizations have existed for thousands of years, with the oldest civilizations dating to about 10,000 years old or so.  This by itself makes The United States seem like an infant on this earth, but also consider how long some of the great ancient world powers existed.  The Persian Empire ruled the ancient world for about the same amount of time that we’ve been a country.  The (Western) Roman Empire ruled for over 500 years and the Eastern Roman Empire (The Byzantine Empire) existed for over 1000 years.    The British Empire was the dominant world power off and on for about 300 years.    So not only are we far younger than just about every other country by a long shot, there have been numerous empires whose rule lasted longer than The U.S. has existed.

In our short 233 year history we have gained our independence, survived a civil war, settled 50 states, contributed to victories in 2 world wars, and sent a man to the moon.   In the days leading up to America’s birth in 1776, under the leadership of our founding fathers, all 13 of the original colonies unanimously signed the declaration penned by Thomas Jefferson.  This Virginian was chosen deliberately to ensure we had the vital support of the South in our quest for independence.  The differing relations between the North and South continued  for many years, leading us into a Civil War in 1861.  Although this was the deadliest war in U.S. history, under the leadership of Abraham Lincoln, it effectively ended slavery and created an even stronger Union that would go on to become a world superpower.  Between 1917 and 1918, after joining the Allied Powers in WWI, The U.S. was able to mobilize 1,300,000 troops to Europe in just over a year, and at its peak was sending 10,000 fresh troops a day to France, all by ship.  This rapid mobilization caught the enemy unprepared for America’s involvement and was key in our ability to turn the tide of the war .  Just over 20 years later, after losing nearly all of our battleships in the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, we entered and fought a war on 2 fronts (Europe and The Pacific), and against all odds, The U.S. helped defeat The Axis Powers.   I deliberately used the words “helped defeat” when describing the outcome.  You see, it is true The U.S. sacrificed about 400,000 lives in the war, however, in contrast, our ally the Soviet Union lost over 25,000,000 (civilian and military).

Our population’s growth has been unprecedented.  Shortly after our country was born at the turn of the century, our population was just over 3 Million.  Today, about 10 generations later, our population is estimated to be over 300 Million.   To accommodate America’s rapidly growing population, a celebrated General from WWII, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, launched what has become the largest system of highways in the world.  From 1956 to 1993, 42,000 miles of Interstate Highways were built connecting all corners of America, enough to circle the earth just about twice.  Finally, also this July, we will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1969 Apollo mission which magnificently achieved John F. Kennedy’s goal of putting the first man on the moon.  When Neil Armstrong announced, “The Eagle Has Landed”, it was revealed that the lunar module only had 17 secs of landing fuel left, a miraculous event that was only seconds away from disaster!  Over the next 3 years, we would send 5 more manned missions to the moon.  The United States is still the only country to have flown a man to the surface of the moon.

Over the course of our history, The United States produced the following inventions: Bifocals, Refrigeration, The Telegraph, The Revolver, The Combine, The Printing Press, The Potato Chip (Yum!), The Motorcycle, The Game of Baseball, The Vacuum Cleaner, The Fire Hydrant, The Phonograph, The Fountain Pen, The Skyscraper, The Escalator, The Tractor, Cotton Candy, Air Conditioning, The Hearing Aid, The Bulldozer, Sunglasses and who can forget, The Wright Brothers famous Airplane.  The list could go on and on with modern day technological inventions, but you get the idea, The United States is truly the land of opportunity where your only limits are the boundaries of your imagination.

If you are fortunate enough to be a part of this great democracy, as a citizen or as a guest, I hope you recognize and appreciate all of the rich history and amazing gifts that America has to offer.  In her brief 233 years, she has accomplished so much and we should feel pride every day.  America is rightfully named “The Land of Opportunity”, and it should be clear, if you put your mind to it, anything, and I mean anything, is possible.  Happy Birthday America!

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