Hey folks.

I know Thanksgiving was yesterday, but Michael Madson over at Modern Opinion put out a great article that says Happy Thanksgiving better than I ever could. Give it a read, forward it around, and a belated Happy Thanksgiving:


Just a quick note.

In light of this wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, a time when Americans gather with their families to celebrate the things they’re thankful for–turkey and pro-football included–I feel impressed to mention how grateful I am to live in the United States of America.

The other day, I had the opportunity to chat with a friend as we rode the bus back to our dorms. We have both lived abroad (he in Argentina; me in Hong Kong and Macau), and we soon found ourselves exchanging notes and observations about our international experiences. Without hesitation, we both agreed that no other place in the world can even compare with the land of the free and the home of the brave. Not to be arrogant, but the United States is truly a nation of nations, an incarnation of freedoms and ideals to which most countries, at present, can only aspire. Certainly, we have our problems and imperfections–otherwise, there’d be no place for news bloggers and people like that Borat fellow–but still, to countless others in the world, the American standard of living is only a wish, a hope, a dream.

Dare I use the politically incorrect term to say that we’re blessed to live within these borders?

Only recently returned from the East, the memory of coming back to the US is still vivid in my mind. What an experience. It was in August, the very day that the terror alert had been raised to accommodate the potential threat from liquids and gels. Passing through all the security checkpoints took a couple hours, but everyone kept their sense of humor, and we all made it aboard the plane for our long, long flight.

After soaring over the frozen wastelands of Mongolia, Russia, and the arctic regions of Canada, the green splash of Wisconsin farmlands, thousands of feet below, was a welcoming oasis to my eyes. I felt that I had been holding my breath for two years and could finally breathe again. Don’t get me wrong; I absolutely love the languages, cultures, and peoples of South-East Asia, but even the fully modernized Hong Kong is no America.

Seated next to me were a Catholic priest from Bangladesh and a young father from Shanghai. Both of them were journeying to the US for the first time, having been accepted to graduate studies at prestigious American universities. They seemed to share my exhileration.

No matter where you’re from, it’s hard not to feel excited when you enter the US.

Gripping our armrests in anticipation, we watched the land come closer and closer as our plane descended to touch down in Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Stepping off the covered walkway with my carry-on, I admit that I couldn’t help but feel a little intimidated. “Dang,” I thought, “Americans are huge! What have they been eating over here? Everyone’s a giant!”

“Hey! You! Yeah, I’m talking to you. Get over here! You’re holding up the line!”

My mind finally touching down to Earth, I complied as quickly as possible with the customs officer’s orders and stepped up to his desk, though I couldn’t help but smile at the man. I didn’t know that anyone really spoke with what is known as a “Chicago accent”; I always thought it was just an old dialect stunt from classic black-and-white films. (Of course, I didn’t dare mention my mild amusement to the officer; I was guessing he wouldn’t share my sense of humor, especially while he was on duty). I do however, greatly appreciate the man for doing his job and keeping our country safe. Besides, lost in my thoughts, I had indeed been holding up his line; I had been like a stray cow on the freeway, and he had simply handled the problem with American effectiveness. No hard feelings.

I was finally back. And I’m so thankful to live in the United States because, simply state, everywhere else it’s just not the same.

Right. Just a quick note.

Happy Thanksgiving, all.


/mark “rizzn” hopkins
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