With Independence Day occurring at a tumultuous time marked by a global pandemic and a national crisis over racial injustice, Climate gave local contributors carte blanche to write their perspectives on what makes America special. We will be publishing our contributors’ American Stories now through July 4. Keep an eye out for these unique and personal pieces.
My wife Dagmar came to America when she was a teenager, along with her brother and parents. Her stepfather was a political refugee after the second World War and needed a country where he could rebuild his life. Luckily for me, he chose America.
When the family decided to become citizens, my wife demurred. She had left lifelong friends behind in Austria and her hometown was very close to her heart. Several years later, when she realized how much she loved living in this country, she made the choice to become a citizen. Like her parents, she became a committed patriot in her new home.
I enjoy trips to Austria and interacting with friends and family there on frequent visits. I could live comfortably in that culture, but that is the key term—comfortably. Her country is like a friendly grandparent—people speak politely to one another, the streets are safe, the arts are held in high esteem, one’s life options stretch out foreseeably into the future, daily life is structured by traditions (but less and less by religion). It is comfortable … but a bit predictable.
I prefer the lively, diverse America. People are more open and caring but also sometimes more abrasive. The streets are not as safe but the dangers are easily foreseen and navigated. One can enjoy a huge variety of artistic encounters, or little at all. The options for life are sometimes overwhelming—so many directions and difficult to focus, but so freeing. Some traditions are honored, but there are few, if any, violations of dress or behavior or the “right thing” that cause people to be disturbed. There is a lot of tolerance for diversity and other people.
And religion is still strong in America compared to all of Europe. More people are committed to their faith and the result is an outpouring of generosity that is envied in the world. From the Salvation Army and World Vision, to the local neighborhood place of worship or storefront church, millions of people are daily fed and supported and comforted and helped in practical ways. I am invigorated every day by this America!
Dennis Logie has served Sequoia Christian Church in Redwood City for 56 years, 27 as a paid pastor—and he is still serving. He and his wife brought up two children who attended local schools.