An American Heartbreak, by Karen Gross

My entire education I attended public school. Every day I pledged allegiance to the United States of America. Not really paying mind to the words I recited, my pledge of allegiance was to the ideals our nation was founded upon. The values embedded in the Constitution and held out for all the world to see in the raised arm of Lady Liberty.

Freedom to pursue.

Pursuit of wealth and property, pursuit of happiness, pursuit of liberty.

Liberty to worship. Or not.

Liberty to be secure in one’s own body, to have the right to make decisions about the most personal matters. Liberty from the law’s unreasonable searches.

Today was a chaotic whirlwind of tweets and mafia-esque revelations about our current administration.

Heartbreak strikes when someone or some thing you hold dear lets you down. When a core value or ideal is breached. And that some one or some thing should have known better.

I have a framed picture with Elie Weisel on my desk. Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate, Mr. Weisel represents the light. He taught us to never forget.

How have we failed so miserably to heed his lessons?

News stories of mass shootings, police acquitted of murdering black lives, the deterioration of a woman’s right to choose (see Arkansas’s new legislation requiring women seek permission from her male partner before the state will allow her access to a legal abortion). The utter disgust I feel at my very core when I hear racist rhetoric vilifying our immigrant neighbors. Making those who make America great feel unwelcome and unsafe.

We have strayed far from our ideals.

I love America. I love her people’s pursuit of knowledge and wonder, her diversity, her geographic beauty and her core ideals. I imagine my ancestors escaping religious persecution and breathing a sigh of relief upon seeing Lady Liberty on the shore. Here we are safe. Here we are in the land of the free.

Today, some partisan elected “leaders” choose party over country. Patronage over patriotism.

Today, the democratic values I pledged my allegiance to are under assault.

Today, my heart aches for my America.

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