In the adult world, feelings of patriotism can be complex but in kindergarten half a century ago such feelings were simple and spontaneous. One day, as the teacher led the class in singing “America,” it occurred to me like a revelation that the United States was my country, too — that even though I was little, I had a personal right to be here and that no one, not even a bully, could take that away from me. I felt a swelling in my chest — I literally puffed up with pride — as I sang along, my voice growing stronger with each note.
In a slightly embarrassing postscript to my epiphany, the teacher asked me to not sing so loudly in the future. She didn’t perceive that I had just undergone a subtle life-changing experience — that I had made my first discovery of what it means, in part, to be a citizen.
rattle of muskets
and peals of victory
echoing in my ears
Published in Haibun Today: A Haibun and Tanka-Prose Journal (http://haibuntoday.com/ht94/H_Waters_Discovering.html), 11/28/15.
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