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Maricia Mlynek and her husband Andy have just returned from a trip across our nation. I was excited about experiencing the trip through the eyes of young, new Calhouners, and thought you would like to share in the adventure.

As a brief introduction, Maricia is a teacher and Andy is a veteran of the Iraq War. They chose to live in Calhoun County. As we cross the nation with them, we will gain appreciation for our own small corner of God’s world.

Here are Maricia’s thoughts as she prepares to leave Calhoun County:

“God Bless America--A journey across a land so fair.

On the eve of the news of my departure for a cross-country tour, I received an email from a dear friend that has yet again returned to combat in the deserts of Iraq. Our friends and comrades enter into harms way without question or ill feelings. Their job is to go and serve--and they do it with pride and selflessness. Though Uncle Sam is not the tour guide on my journey, I will still cross many paths and routes that made America the land of the free and the home of the brave.

 As I ponder what is in store for this journey across America, I am reminded of the lyrics of an Irving Berlin song. Berlin was a Jewish immigrant from Siberia and a soldier in the U.S. Army when he wrote the song, ‘God Bless America.’ In 1938, with the rise of Hitler, Berlin felt it was a time to revive the song. He also provided an introduction that is now rarely heard:

‘While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,

Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free.

Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,

As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.’

So often we see only the unfortunate and distressing sides of our nation. The media lends to our ignorance and we forget that we are a country that truly is the richest in the world. Dare I say rich? Yes, rich. I am fully aware of the poverty that reaches into the depths of my state, but I tell you now, even in our most desperate need, there are others who have less. Yes, friends we are rich--even if we only have the shirt on our back. Why dare I be so bold? Because we are free. Foolish you say to relish in an ideal so forgotten and little thought of--but I challenge you now to consider the words you read.

How is it that you came to learn to read them? How is it that the language you read is in English? How is it that you can think and speak as you wish without fear of attack or persecution? How is it that these ideas may have never made their way into your thoughts? The answer is simply this: you are an American. You are free. You are rich.

And so, I embark on my journey across the prairies, from the mountains to the oceans in search of not just the land of the free, but the people who make this land “home sweet home.” May God bless you and may we raise our voices in solemn prayer for those that protect our America. May we be grateful for a land so fair!”


God Bless America

“While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,

Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free.

Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,

As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.

God Bless America,

Land that I love.

Stand beside her, and guide her

Thru the night with a light from above.

From the mountains, to the prairies,

To the oceans, white with foam,

God bless America, my home sweet home.”

                                                         --Irving Berlin

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