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April 9, 2009
By Scott Ogle SILVER, University Place, Washington
Scott Ogle SILVER, University Place, Washington
6 articles 0 photos 0 comments

What is it about America that draws the tired, the poor, the tempest-tossed huddled masses yearning to breathe free? There are better places to escape to. There are more fertile lands, more amber waves of grain than this land has. There are certainly warmer welcomes to be had elsewhere.

So why do they come here? Why did we come here? Why did we travel as far from our cradle of life as possible to wind up here, in this place, where it’s too hot in the South, too cold in the North, too old in the East and too new in the West, with tornados all up and down the middle? There is no sense to it.

And yet, we continue to do it. We pack up our clothes, our families, our words and our music and our songs and our games and our food and our gods and we bring them here, to this place so far away from everything else.

Some people come to America to escape. My people, with their pale faces and aching stomachs, came here simply to find food. The Spanish came here to fight us for land that didn’t belong to either of us anyway. The Africans were brought here, to cultivate the dry ground and clean the houses and tell the stories of their homeland to little white children. The Europeans themselves came here seeking asylum from a world that did not want them, couldn’t allow them, and refused to keep them the way they chose to be.

Why? Why, when it is so difficult, do we always journey here? There is something about this place. Not the country, not the name, not the flag. The land. There is something about this land that, hundreds of millions of years ago, gave the first true Americans reason to travel halfway across the globe. These truly native Americans, the ancestors of the ancestors of the people Columbus met upon his landing. Before the tribes even had names they were coming here. Before the spear and the sling and the wheel they were coming here. When fire was still the latest technology they were coming here.

And even they were a new people in an old, old land. Much confidence as we have in our own dominion over it the land, however scarred and pockmarked by our brief stay, will remain here. We, like those that came before us, are only a small chapter in its story. People have fought over this dirt pile since the beginning, and before anyone claims it we will all have been replaced by others who will themselves fight over it. And even they and those that come after them will never really be able to say why. There’s just something about this place that draws us. Whatever it is for you or was for your people, this place is our home now. OUR home. We will not mourn for those who had it before us, nor will we be mourned by those who eventually take it from us. It is the legacy of this land, to have no one history lasting too long before it is replaced by another. But it is ours for now. And no matter how we each arrived here, this remains true.

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