Celebrating a Favorite Uncle’s Birthday

A poet’s prayer for his native land

Although Facebook didn’t alert me,
I posted a birthday greeting to my favorite uncle on my timeline.
Even though he’s getting older,
there’s still a spring in his step and a patriotic beat to his heart.
This uncle of mine has been through the war a time or two
and has the scars to prove it.
Fighting for the freedoms I too often take for granted
has taken its toll.
But he is not bitter.
He’s confident his service was not in vain.

While his vision is not quite what it used to be,
my uncle still manages to focus on the disturbing headlines
as he sees beyond the years and dreams of a better day.
Although prejudice, homelessness,
rampant gun violence and radicalized religions
make my uncle weep,
he prays (in his own way)
that God will bless our land once again.
In spite of the fact
his extended family is having trouble getting along,
my Uncle Sam refuses
to write his nephews and nieces out of his will.
He believes in them.
He knows they are better than they sometimes seem.

And so on this his 241st birthday,
I call on all my cousins from coast to coast
to honor this special man and give him the respect he deserves
by the way we treat each other.
I can’t think of a better birthday present to give our dear uncle
than giving each other the understanding,
acceptance, kindness and trust he longs for.
And may the frosting on his cake be a determination
to give one another the benefit of the doubt
when we are tempted to think the worst.

Happy Birthday, Uncle Sam!