I am totally, unapologetically, emotionally, proudly American. I don’t know how I got this way, especially considering the fact that I was born while Nixon was president and went down in scandal, soon followed by heavy-handed-politically-correct liberal governing, which was then kicked in the gut by the deregulation of everything, which of course brought upon more scandal and polarization and war and deficits and double-speak and chaos in our government. I am guilty of romanticizing our past and glossing over the tedious details and fights and politicking and general horrors that went into getting laws passed, wars ended, or regulations enacted. But even still, I love the process of how it all works from the campaigns to the bill signings and all the pomp in between. And even though I have been this way my whole life, I have only recently taken the leap to be a part of the process. I am a late bloomer ’til the very end.
The leap I took happened about three summers ago when I was driving home from work one day, listening to NPR, when an interview came on with two guys about my age talking about these bills they had before Congress to create a US Public Service Academy. Basically it would be a civilian West Point: students would go to this undergraduate Academy and be educated and trained in civilian policy, programs, and leadership and upon graduation they would give back five years in a public sector job in education, health care, emergency management, law enforcement, etc. I was so taken with the idea I didn’t even realize how much time had passed and was shocked to find my car engine was off. After running in the house and emailing these two geniuses, I knew my life had just changed and I was now part of the process.
Last week I got to go to Washington DC for the third time to work with Chris Myers Asch, Shawn Raymond and high school and college students from all over the country to meet with our Senators and Representatives to promote the US Public Service Academy Act and make this institution a reality. It must also be said, again and again, that this is entirely volunteer, entirely grassroots and entirely awesome. We are not funded by any big underwriting and the grant money ran out, so I turned to my family and friends to send me to DC this time. And oh my God did they come through in a huge way! Through the donations from my peeps, I was able to get to the conference, wrangle students, head to the Hill and lobby it up.
Being a part of this movement has never felt more natural to me, even in the face of all the super-accomplished, multi-degreed, well-traveled, Ivy-covered academics, lawyers, professors, PhDs, a few Tracy Flicks that always surround me and my big wide eyes in DC. I may not have the multitude of letters behind my name, but I have that uniquely American thing going for me: I believe I can do and be whatever I want and right now, I want to make this bill pass.
On we go.