November 8, 2012

Having dabbled in strategic planning and analyses of mission statements, I can think of no tighter, more streamlined and more meaningful mission statement than that of our United States of America: We are united, equal and unanimously able to participate, enjoy and succeed in this country. As our president expressed so eloquently in his acceptance speech, “It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.”

The reality of what it means to be an American struck me most poignantly Wednesday morning when the school bus came for our daughter. The bus assistant, a warm, patient and loving middle-aged gentleman from Liberia, got out to greet her. With a broad grin on his face and tears in his eyes, he told her, “I am so happy. I am so happy. Obama is our president.” She asked him whom he had voted for, and he told her, “Obama.” She replied, “Me, too!” (There had been a mock election at her school.) She then looked at him and simply said, “We are the same.”

Yes, in America the young white girl with special needs is the same as her middle-aged black male friend from Liberia. This is America, where we live, breathe and stick to our mission statement.

Carolyn Jeppsen, Washington