August 25, 2007
O’Hare International Airport
After 8 months in Southeast Asia, I returned to the US and my family for a short vacation. Everyone around me was speaking English and smiling as I struggled to comprehend the reality of coming back. I kept saying to myself over and over, “I’m home. I’m going home. I’m home…” but my heart felt strangely detached, as if I was once again dreaming of familiar places and not wanting to wake up.
I was riding the train between the international and domestic terminals when I glanced out the window over a parking lot. And saw the flag. In that moment, everything else faded; the were no colors as bold or bright as the red, white and blue in the sunshine. Tears filled my eyes as I experienced a feeling of belonging for the first time in months. That flag informed my heart that I’d returned to my country, to my people and to my home. I haven’t been able to look at a flag the same way since then.
‘Tis the star-spangled banner, O long may it wave!
~Francis Scott Key