Dear America

At sunrise, the Great Smoky Mountains are so majestic their beauty could kill you. So are the Rockies, and the Sierra Nevadas at sundown.

The same goes for the Tetons, the Blue Ridge, the Bighorns, the Elks, the Adirondacks, and the Appalachians, which were carved by the pocketknife of God.

Oh, and the Missouri River, when seen from 34,000 feet above, it will break your heart with its glory. The Missouri moves like liquid silver across a green patchwork of American farmland. So does the Mississippi, the Rio Grande, the meandering Columbia, the Ohio, the Arkansas, the Tennessee, the Colorado, the Youghiogheny, the Chattahoochee, and the boisterous Potomac.

But then, you can also feel this wonder in other places. Like when the Gulf of Mexico reflects the colors of dusk.

Or when you gaze across the Chesapeake Bay. Past the river reeds and gray water. When you listen to the geese overhead, honking their chipper hellos.

You get this same feeling when standing on Ellis Island. You begin to visualize the hundreds of thousands of congregated Germans, Norwegians, Chinese, Dutch, Sicilians, Hungarians, Polish, Jewish, Danish, and Swedish, all dressed in drab rags, holding tight to their entire lives, crammed into duffle bags. And it all makes sense, why your old man was such a tightwad when it came to buying your Little League uniform.

I visited Ellis Island once, I could swear I almost saw my Scots-Irish ancestors waiting in line. I could practically feel their breath on my neck.

You experience this same feeling in Savannah, within Trustee’s Garden, when an expensive tour guide reminds you that this was where the first seeds of American cotton, apples, coffee, and wheat were experimentally grown.

And when you walk Savannah’s streets to Oglethorpe Avenue, you feel a similar awe inside the home of Juliette Gordon Low; a girl who was deaf in both ears, who founded a humble youth organization in 1915.

Her all-female club was built upon the idea of empowering girls, and teaching compassion and kindness. She called them “Girl Scouts.” And although they were laughed at by high-society snobs of their day, this group would predate the American woman’s right to vote.

The great feeling I speak of can be found when you stand on the grass of Mount Vernon, Virginia, overlooking the whitewater, enjoying the same view General Washington loved to watch while sipping his tepid beer.

And in Moab, Utah, within the mysterious Arches National Park, where ancient remnants of time stand like archaic ruins.

You sense this same reverence high upon the south rim of the Grand Canyon, when staring at an itty-bitty, mercury-like river, miles beneath you, just before a 12-year-old tourist almost knocks you over the edge because he is playing tag with his sister.

You gaze over the canyon at the pancake-stacked rock formations of redwall limestone, bright angel shale, and Coconino sandstone, and you sigh a quiet but heartfelt, “Whoa.”

You will find this sacredness within the Navajo Nation, the largest land area still retained by an American indigenous tribe, covering 17,544,400 acres, an area larger than 10 U.S. states.

And in Atlanta, on 501 Auburn Avenue, inside the two-story Queen Anne home where a young boy named Michael King Jr. grew up, before later renaming himself Martin Luther King Jr.

You will feel wonder in Montanna, where North America’s first dinosaur specimen was found in 1854. Where 50 years later, the first Tyrannosaurus Rex was discovered in Hell Creek.

And in the serenity of the Great Plains of Nebraska, Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. The remains of North America’s ancient interior sea, which covers approximately 1,125,000 square miles, roughly one third of the United States. An area slightly bigger than Disney World.

The lowlands of the Mississippi Delta. The wilds of Alaska. The Great Lakes. The deserts of Nevada, which can cause a man to feel fear, awe, and gratefulness for his GPS. The Ozarks. Yosemite. Yellowstone. Mount Shasta. And of course, Cracker Barrel.

And in Adams County, Pennsylvania, where a battle was once fought near the borough of Gettysburg, where an estimated 48,000 men fell. Our men. Our brothers.

Also, in Saint Augustine, Florida, where in 1565 Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés and his 800 colonists ate supper with the indigenous Timucua, and held the first Catholic mass on future U.S. soil.

This good feeling is in every truckstop cafe. Every beer joint. In Boston’s Fenway Park. At Busch Stadium. Yankee Field. Talladega Superspeedway. Burger joints. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The American Royal Barbecue Competition. Wednesday night church meetings. Pinewood derbies. Bunco night. And every backyard game of hide and seek.

In the ornate finery of the U.S. Capitol building, which has survived 228 years of turbulence. In the vacant dust of Death Valley. In the suffocating swamps of the Everglades. And in the nightmarish hellscape that is LaGuardia Airport.

Nothing can take this feeling from us. Because—don’t you see?—this feeling IS us. It is not a sensation we experience privately, but it is felt within our common bond. We belong to us.

So no matter how the flames of discord burn; no matter how the fires of time threaten to consume our fabric; no matter how badly our nation’s brothers disagree; today I just want you to know that I love you. I truly do.

Not only because we are American. But because we are human beings whose ancestors were bold enough to call themselves by such an ambitious and inspiring name.

83 comments

  1. Bob E - January 21, 2021 6:56 am

    Amen

    Reply
  2. Ellouise Pennington - January 21, 2021 7:07 am

    I hope you get to read this at a future inauguration

    Reply
  3. Christina - January 21, 2021 7:16 am

    Wow Sean. Standing ovation. Yes waiting for see you read this at the next inauguration

    Reply
  4. Susan Parker - January 21, 2021 7:48 am

    I needed this. We needed this. Thank you for saying it just right, Sean.

    Reply
  5. Melissa A. - January 21, 2021 7:50 am

    Thank you for this!

    Reply
  6. Debbie g - January 21, 2021 8:47 am

    I love America and every beautiful brother too and Sean. There are no words I can think of for you except love. Keep spreading it ❤️❤️❤️

    Reply
  7. Sandi. - January 21, 2021 9:03 am

    I sincerely appreciate you putting into such well-chosen words what so many of us feel about living in America, Sean. It’s a keeper of a timeless post to read and re-read. What a privilege to reside in such a beautiful country!

    Reply
  8. Deborah L Blount - January 21, 2021 9:04 am

    God bless America. And God bless our troops.

    Reply
  9. Sharon Brock - January 21, 2021 9:48 am

    Perfect, Sean. Just perfect. Only you left out one of the nations natural wonders. If you have never been to Mammoth Cave National Park, you should. The longest by miles of explored cave on the planet–400 miles.Estimated 600 miles still unmapped. Only about 40% of the cave has been mapped. And every single mile created by God. Inside it’s walls, imagine Niagara Falls, only it is all rock.

    Reply
  10. River Jordan - January 21, 2021 10:00 am

    Amen and amen.

    Reply
  11. Tammy S. - January 21, 2021 10:33 am

    God bless America, land that I love,
    Stand beside her, and guide her,
    Through the night with the light from above.
    From the mountains, to the prairies,
    To the oceans white with foam,
    God bless America, my home sweet home.

    Thank you, Irving Berlin and thank you, Sean.
    Both Beautifully written!

    Reply
  12. Ron M - January 21, 2021 11:51 am

    We are indeed Blessed to call all such our homeland!

    Reply
  13. D. Green - January 21, 2021 11:52 am

    Amen.

    Reply
  14. Susan Nelms - January 21, 2021 12:16 pm

    Thanks for being a light in what can seem pretty dark surroundings at times and reminding us just how blessed we are to live in this country! You are awesome!

    Reply
  15. Jean - January 21, 2021 12:22 pm

    Amen!!!!

    Reply
  16. Te Burt - January 21, 2021 12:40 pm

    It’s a shame that wasn’t Biden’s speech yesterday. It would have gone down as one of the best. Instead, you said it. Biden won’t be there long, so it probably doesn’t matter. And I’d rather hear it from you. I can believe you.

    Reply
  17. Joretta Parker - January 21, 2021 12:40 pm

    Thank you Sean, well said. I’m from WV and feel that way looking over our beautiful mountains. I now live in Alabama and sure do miss those beautiful mountains. I don’t know what is in store for this wonderful nation but we will persevere! May God bless you!

    Reply
  18. Kim - January 21, 2021 12:46 pm

    Absolutely beautiful!

    Reply
  19. Cyn - January 21, 2021 1:02 pm

    Amen!🙏🏻💕

    Reply
  20. Cindy - January 21, 2021 1:04 pm

    🙏🇺🇸

    Reply
  21. Jil Borden - January 21, 2021 1:05 pm

    America’s Heritage.  One of the things some try and remove from the youngand the old.  But it’s the thing that holds us all together.  Ye Haaaaaa.   It’s notany one thing, it’s, like you said, it’s a feeling, a wholeness and oneness withthe land and its’ people.  It is who we are and those who experience this are blessed.

    Reply
  22. Larry Maun - January 21, 2021 1:10 pm

    Wonderful and uplifting. Love you, Sean.

    Reply
  23. Heidi - January 21, 2021 1:11 pm

    Beautiful inspiring sentiments for the people and land that I love. Thank you. God Bless us and keep us safe.

    Reply
  24. Lisa - January 21, 2021 1:17 pm

    Beautifully written. Thank you, Sean. Much needed perspective today. Thank you!

    Reply
  25. Sue Rhodus - January 21, 2021 1:28 pm

    I wish every person in America could read this. Thank you for the words. Beautifully done. May God Bless Us ! 🇺🇸

    Reply
  26. Cheryl - January 21, 2021 1:30 pm

    Beautiful!

    Reply
  27. Farris Jones - January 21, 2021 1:33 pm

    Thank you for these beautiful inspiring words at a time when needed most ! “Love your neighbor as yourself” Romans 13:9 , may we all practice this in the days ahead !

    Reply
  28. blackwoodxing@gmail.com - January 21, 2021 1:45 pm

    Sean, this may be your finest hour! Much needed words. God bless America! 🇺🇸

    Reply
  29. Gail - January 21, 2021 1:53 pm

    Our thoughts and hearts need to be focused on how blessed we are. How we can be a light in our nation and you certainly are. Thanking you for sharing your inspiring gifts.

    Reply
  30. Sara C Nichols - January 21, 2021 1:54 pm

    Thank you. America IS beautiful.

    Reply
  31. Connie - January 21, 2021 1:58 pm

    You never fail to reach my heart. This is beautiful. Thank you. Love and hugs.

    Reply
  32. MARTHA E HERCHAK - January 21, 2021 2:00 pm

    This is one for all time. Thank you, Sean!

    Reply
  33. John - January 21, 2021 2:12 pm

    Brilliant!

    Reply
  34. Karen G - January 21, 2021 2:17 pm

    Oh, my goodness, Sean! Didn’t we all need this on this beautiful morning? Thank you for putting the hate and disruptiveness back in the bag for a while. “ This land is your land, this land is my land “ 🙂 Let us remember that and proceed forward- just as soon as I get a tissue to wipe my tears .

    Reply
  35. Myra - January 21, 2021 2:21 pm

    Dear Sean, I thank God for giving you such a precious gift and that you share your gift with words with us! Today I blubbered all the way through your fabulous article starting with the first sentence. That sentence grabbed my heart because you put into words what my heart feels at that sight! I no longer live in the mountains and sorely miss that sight; however, you reminded me that I now have sunrises and sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico to enjoy! I live you to, my brother, my fellow American.

    Reply
  36. Sue Cronkite - January 21, 2021 2:24 pm

    Awesome reminder of who we are.

    Reply
  37. Bette Ward - January 21, 2021 2:25 pm

    Amen – thank you for these wonderful, beautiful and truthful thoughts and words

    Reply
  38. Eddy - January 21, 2021 2:29 pm

    Beautifully expressed. Amen!

    Reply
  39. Beryl - January 21, 2021 2:38 pm

    And so it is

    Reply
  40. Katrina - January 21, 2021 2:52 pm

    Thank you for this piece that was strung words together in such a way as to weave a feeling of both awe and pride, gratitude and humility. You are gifted.

    Reply
  41. Ruth Klarner - January 21, 2021 2:52 pm

    Wonderfully expressed. My sentiments also.

    Reply
  42. Jane - January 21, 2021 3:01 pm

    And from the Ozarks….we say thank you.

    Reply
  43. Kathie B - January 21, 2021 3:05 pm

    What a beautiful reminder of the country we call “home.”

    Reply
  44. Carolyn Geck - January 21, 2021 3:13 pm

    Thank you for bringing back heartfelt memories of pride at places I’ve visited in our wonderful America the beautiful.💓🇺🇸

    Reply
  45. Bobbie - January 21, 2021 3:14 pm

    What’s left to say?? Amen to all. I agree with the one who commented re Biden’s speech….could’ve used some of this if not all. It brought to mind when I went on a mission trip to Africa in ’08. No words to express the feeling as we got close enough to see in the distance the good ole USA!!
    I pray in the days ahead people will notice, will look around them ….see this beautiful place God gave us. Thank you dear friend for your heartfelt words to lift us this morning as we go into a new season. God bless you and your beautiful family.
    May we be a light to all those living in darkness. ❤️🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

    Reply
  46. Nancy Huey - January 21, 2021 3:27 pm

    Love this, my late husband was determined to have family, at least ride thru all 48 states. When son graduated from Auburn, we went to Hawaii. When daughter graduated from Auburn, we went to Alaska. Love our America, and so do Trumps.

    Reply
  47. Diana Meek - January 21, 2021 3:34 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for reminding us of who we really are and what a great land we are blessed to live in!

    Reply
  48. Betty Kelly - January 21, 2021 3:35 pm

    My heart swells with pride as I read your beautiful words! Thank you Sean for what you write about this magnificent land of ours and may we never take it for granted!!

    Reply
  49. Patricia - January 21, 2021 3:54 pm

    That was so hateful and so unnecessary to say.

    Reply
  50. Patricia - January 21, 2021 3:57 pm

    Trumps love the America they created on January 6th.

    Reply
  51. Patricia - January 21, 2021 3:58 pm

    So hateful and so unnecessary.

    Reply
  52. S - January 21, 2021 4:03 pm

    What an awesome article! Just a few changes in names and the same applies to your northern neighbor! I came to following your columns through an American friend – it’s a breath of fresh air – please keep on.

    Reply
  53. Deborah Jarvis - January 21, 2021 4:26 pm

    Loved this one, Sean. Thank you for the reminders of many of the awe-inspiring places in our great land.
    I’m so thankful I’m an American!
    Praying for us to be as deTocqueville described us:
    “great because we are good “.
    Thanks again,
    Your writing speaks to our minds and hearts!

    Reply
  54. John Skelton - January 21, 2021 4:28 pm

    But you know, we were invaders. Our ancestors came to this land because they needed room to grow. And to do that they had to push out and restrict the area of land Native Americans could live.

    I went to summer camp many many years ago, and remember singing “This Land is Your Land” and I liked the message it said. But as I heard it sung at the inauguration, I wondered what those people think of that song today. Not only them, but I can see the African Americans would have something to say about how their ancestors got here.

    Just some thoughts.

    Reply
  55. Jim Springfield - January 21, 2021 4:48 pm

    From sea to shining sea! Well said “Maestro of familiar words.”

    Reply
  56. Jan - January 21, 2021 4:50 pm

    Just what I needed to read today. We live in a beautiful country. If only we could just meet each person as an individual without the baggage of labels, I do believe we could go a long way toward the unity that is much discussed these days. As always you have opened my eyes to the world we live in, especially the breath taking beauty we often take for granted. Thank you, Sean!

    Reply
  57. Ann - January 21, 2021 5:14 pm

    What a great reminder of this great America we live in 🇺🇸🇺🇸….it doesn’t go without discord and strife…and we have survived…let us remember all the beauty and good that we have now.
    God bless America 🙏🏻🇺🇸

    Reply
  58. Carol - January 21, 2021 5:20 pm

    Oh so perfect! My heart sings…

    Reply
  59. D - January 21, 2021 5:46 pm

    Enjoyed learning some “new” history lessons. Hallelujah God Bless America and you!

    Reply
  60. Roxanne - January 21, 2021 5:59 pm

    What a gorgeous piece of writing. Thank you for sharing it with us. It is a lovely, majestic, and beautiful land. All of those–ALL OF THOSE–who have lived between it’s flanking oceans have known what a beautiful place it is. Just like all of human history, we can point to dark moments–deeds, thoughts, actions that cannot be undone. While we cannot erase those dark moments, we cannot keep our focus there either. We must learn and move forward with gratitude–“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds…” The indentured son of a strict father who educated himself, failed, succeeded, struggled with depression, and became our 16th President got it right. And so did you.

    Reply
  61. Pam - January 21, 2021 6:10 pm

    You have expressed the sentiments for so many of us. Thank you!

    Reply
  62. Ken P - January 21, 2021 6:14 pm

    Good one Sean!! With all that is going on, Lord help us to not to focus on it. May we focus on being thankful and enjoying this great, beautiful land we live in! Thanks for the reminder.

    Reply
  63. Janice Overton - January 21, 2021 6:46 pm

    This was something we all needed to hear today. Thank you!

    Reply
  64. Paul Alge Moore - January 21, 2021 6:47 pm

    Hey Sean. I know you avoid getting political at all cost. I understand. It just causes trouble. But I think you snuck one in here very cleverly. I feel so much better today. The anxiety and fear of the last few years have been dreadful for the whole country. I can see a light now and this post made me feel even better. Don’t get political on us Sean I’ll do it for you as smoothly as possible. Thanks Sean

    Reply
  65. Kathleen McAbee - January 21, 2021 7:10 pm

    I love it!

    Reply
  66. Suzanne Moore - January 21, 2021 7:45 pm

    What a wonderful post, Sean. It really puts things into perspective. I wish that every single American would read this today.

    Reply
  67. Marcia MacLean - January 21, 2021 8:32 pm

    Wow! You make me proud to be me and a part of us. Seems like the perfect day to display my flag. God bless the USA!

    Reply
  68. Linda Moon - January 21, 2021 9:07 pm

    America. The beautiful. God bless Her. I’ve been so very blessed to see many of the places that you told us about today. Aye, Sean, I love America, her spirit, and the stories you tell!

    Reply
  69. Rebecca Souders - January 21, 2021 9:31 pm

    Thanks.

    Reply
  70. Patricia King - January 21, 2021 9:35 pm

    You always make me feel better!

    Reply
  71. Virginia - January 21, 2021 9:38 pm

    Loved this one. Gave me goosebumps. Thank you.😊

    Reply
  72. Helen De Prima - January 21, 2021 9:47 pm

    I pray you’re right.

    Reply
  73. billprather - January 21, 2021 10:29 pm

    for my money the best piece of putting words on a page that you have ever written

    Reply
  74. Bill - January 21, 2021 11:47 pm

    Well said. Having been fortunate to have in my lifetime to see many of the wonders of our/my country makes me in awe of what we have. Do not take it for granted. We are all part of the problems we have as well as the solution to them. Embrace it and move forward . This is still, despite all our faults, the best country in the world.

    Reply
  75. Kim Haynes - January 22, 2021 1:44 am

    Beautiful truth! Thanks, Sean! I hope you get to read these words at a future inauguration too!

    Reply
  76. Jean Stone - January 22, 2021 2:37 am

    About halfway into this article it dawned on me…He is spreading Unity! He is reminding us of the pride and the power of place, and how we all are the common denominators of a vast and beautiful country. Your words both remind and inspire and I’m always so grateful for your gift. Thank you.

    Reply
  77. Alva Barksdale - January 22, 2021 4:45 am

    Wow! Just WOW! There are no words to describe the sheer beauty of these words! You should have been reading this in Washington yesterday!

    Reply
  78. Joseph B Mizereck - January 22, 2021 2:05 pm

    Well said young man. Thank you.

    Reply
  79. Jack L. Giddens - January 22, 2021 6:28 pm

    Amen brother!

    Reply
  80. Chasity Davis Ritter - January 22, 2021 10:38 pm

    Ok had Lee Greenwood singing 🎶God Bless the USA🎶 Playing in my head while I was reading that. Beautiful as always. We should all take pride in our amazing country.

    Reply
  81. Melanie McKague - January 23, 2021 12:09 am

    I’ve been reading your work for a couple of years now and, while I love them all, this is one of your very best articles. The time you spend on research doesn’t go unnoticed. And with your finger on the pulse of the public, you touch us all… unbiased. Thanks for this especially, Sean. Love, Melanie

    Reply
  82. Charaleen Wright - February 5, 2021 6:32 am

    💖

    Reply
  83. Julie - February 5, 2021 2:48 pm

    Along with reader Ellouise Pennington, and others, I totally agree…you must read this at our next Presidential Inauguration…period, Amen🙏
    Love from the Land of Lincoln and the Prairie❣️

    Reply

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