Head Coach: Home is where your heart truly lies

June 30, 2010 at 1:30 a.m.


Every Fourth of July, I am gently reminded of the moment I first learned to appreciate this country of mine. It wasn't a major landmark event or anything. I hadn't been suffering and finally rescued by the liberating forces of good, justice and freedom. In fact, no one even noticed at the time but me. It was more internal, an awareness during a moment of life transition.

In the mid-50s my family moved to Japan. It wasn't a military assignment. My Dad was a maritime engineer. He helped build ships. His employer transferred him to Kobe, Japan.

Being civilians, we lived a civilian lifestyle. Being 8, I literally grew up over the next seven years in the neighborhoods of a country other than my homeland.

Age 8 to 15 is an impressionable time. So the Orient has left deep impressions in my attitude, perspective and ways of thinking.

In fact, when we returned to the United States, the Land of the Rising Sun felt more like home than this land of my birth. Until, that is, our ship sailed into San Francisco Bay.

I'll never forget the moment. Standing on the open deck of an ocean liner, I watched with my family as we sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge and into the United States. Others were in conversation.

I, on the other hand, was silent, lost in my thoughts and surprised by my reaction. I felt a comforting sense of calm and safety.

Japan wasn't a threatening place. My experience there was only of the hospitality, graciousness and calm that Japan, at its best, is known for. But while I couldn't understand my reaction, I appreciated it. So, letting out a big sigh, I welcomed myself home.

After growing up in Japan, the United States looked foreign to me, but it felt like home. At 15, I had no idea what the cultural, political or social climate was in the United States, but it didn't matter. It was home and I already felt a natural love for it ... no matter what.

I realized that day that this country is my homeland, whether I had lived here or not, whether I agreed or even understood its politics or not, whether it felt safe and friendly or not, whether it loved me back or not.

That was almost 50 years ago. I am certainly well entrenched in this country now.

I have experienced good times and bad. I have worried about the loss of core values and agonized over courses we have taken that appear misguided, shortsighted and sometimes arrogant.

At the same time, however, I marvel with pride over how resolutely we as a people continue to fight on both the battlefield as well as the debate table to defend the self-evident truths of equality and unalienable God given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I don't always have to like or agree with what goes on in this country. Even though this country defends my right to speak out, I also understand that I won't always be listened to. And, most of the time, I won't get my way.

These were the same feelings I experienced at 15 when I sailed under that bridge into the United States of America as the ship's captain raised the stars and stripes.

Happy birthday, America. I'm glad you were born.

Lane Johnson, M.Div., LPC, is a licensed counselor. He welcomes your comments. You can contact him by e-mail at lane@StrategicConnectionGroup.com.



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