Written by Zachary A. Papuga - July 4th 2013


Perspective. Common sense. Virtue. Love. Peace. The general pursuit of happiness. These are all things I seek on a daily basis as a 23-year-old American man. Sadly I'm beginning to believe I'm one of few. What was once common has now become rare. The common good now only works for everyone if it works for the individual. We are a nation of individuals. The American Dream of the 21stcentury tells you to wake up in YOUR bed, with YOUR dreams, in YOUR house. Then you get in YOUR car, in YOUR garage. You drive down YOUR roads, and listen to YOUR stations. You park YOUR car in YOUR parking spot and go up YOUR elevator to YOUR place of work to make YOUR money. You check YOUR phone, YOUR emails, and YOUR social media accounts throughout the day to make sure YOU'RE on top of everything. We have become a nation of YOU. You are fine and happy until someone gets in YOUR way or disagrees with YOU. Nothing makes you more mad then YOUR phones not working or YOUR Internet going down or even someone slowing YOU down in the fast lane. We have become the Republic of YOU. The problem is, I don't trust YOU because I don't trust myself. As single strands in this beautiful and unique tapestry that makes up America, we all are fighting to out shine our fellow strand. We no longer enjoy the beauty of the masterpiece as a whole. We no longer take pride in the fact we are part of such a majestic and wonderfully created piece of art. Imagine if the founders of our country had fought solely for themselves and their motives. Had they, we would not be a country today.

I often have visions of Thomas Jefferson sitting in my passenger seat during my daily commute. I imagine the questions he would ask and the disgust he would display toward our current situation as a country. It bothers me that no one is bothered how far we have removed ourselves from the original intentions of those great men. Those great men who took the risk so we could thrive almost 240 years later. The ones whose blood stains our oldest walks and spirits cry out over the rolling hills of Arlington.

When I say I have perspective, I also must add I am blessed. I do not stand here to boast but to lay testament to my life.

I am the son of two veterans. My mother was a marine, my dad was a sailor.

They own multiple small businesses and supply near 150+ families with an income.

I grew up understanding the meaning of hard work, failure, and success.

It wasn't a choice but an enforcement, and I'm better for it.

I played varsity football, baseball and edited the yearbook in high school.

I'm a photographer and a writer, a disciple and a discipler.

I've mentored Jr. High guys for 7 years and never intend to stop.

I am a college graduate from a state university and a trade technician.

I love my Jesus, my church, and my friends.

I've been to 22 states thus far, and intend to see them all.

Among them, I've done and seen incredible things.

I cried my eyes out at Arlington and been underneath the Tomb of the Unknown Solider

Been in the White House twice, walked the corridors of the Pentagon and sat in the House of Representatives a time or two.

I laid a rose on George Washington's tomb on his 275thbirthday and felt the ghosts of Gettysburg as I stood atop Little Round Top.

I've lived a country song in Texas and kissed the farmers daughter in the rain.

We've had the penthouse suite in Vegas and for once I made it out a winner.

I've seen the redwoods of California, and the mighty Mississippi of New Orleans.

Drank shine at Talladega and sang Sweet Home Alabama all night long.

I've seen the destruction of Sandy, Ivan, and Katrina first hand as I walked through Manhattan, Pensacola, and the Ninth Ward.

I stood at the base of the World Trade Center buildings, two weeks before 9/11 and cried my eyes out at the memorials where they once stood.

I've been thrashed by the waves in Maui, and eaten alive by the mosquitoes in Tennessee.

I've ran the backwoods of Pennsylvania and learned what fried okra was in Virginia.

I've fished the rivers of Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah, and spotted an alien or two in Roswell.

I got real weird in Portland and spring breaked a little too hard in San Diego

I love my home state of Arizona where I watched a fire from atop a mountain that took 19 heroes lives.

I've seen a lot. I've met a lot of different people and I've come to find are a diverse nation. A nation of the people, by the people and FOR the people. I wish these PEOPLE would stand up for one another and for what they believe. What they TRULY BELIEVE! What happened to the American Spirit? The great patriots who were willing gave their lives for an idea, a principle, a dream. We are now too afraid to even use our voices, let alone our bodies. Corruption rules our government and yet we stand down. They aim to change our constitution and remove its security system and all we do is whimper. Stand up weak generation. It's not all about you. Maybe you need to do what I did. Delete all your social media for a month or six. Open your eyes. Talk to people with your mouth. Make and hold real conversations. Enjoy life away from your screens, buttons, and emotionless texts. Feel pain. Feel joy. Give love. Walk around your neighborhood and get to know the people you share air with. Do nice things for people for no reason. Let save this place I so dearly love. Let's be the change. Not "the change" that a boisterous politician wants, but the change that began a revolution. Let's be happy. Let's be friends. Let's be free. -- Zachary A. Papuga 2013 ©

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