Evan Kessler Dot Com

The Home of the Brave

Just So You Know, Everywhere Else Kinda Sucks

Posted by evankessler on December 10, 2010

Two months ago I booked a vacation to a distant swath of land well outside the borders of the United States. Soon after making my travel arrangements I noticed that my journey, scheduled for February 20 til March 10 of 2011, was in conflict with the expiration date on my passport. Luckily, this gave me more than a reasonable amount of time to renew the legal document that allows me,  a U.S. Citizen, to traverse the globe to nations accepting of such persons within their humble borders and giving them the temporary go ahead to intermingle with their native populace. My application for renewal was mailed out in the middle of November and, like clockwork, my renewed passport arrived today in the mail.


Shiny Happy Passport

The last few days have existed in anticipation of the moment I’d be cleared to for landing at a foreign airport. So knowing full well what the US Postal Service envelope sticking out of my mailbox was, I proceeded to tear it open with near-wreckless abandon in an utter frenzy of excitement. There it was, a sturdy blue booklet emblazoned with the words “Passport” and “United States of America.”  I proudly opened my authorization key to the rest of the world to examine its contents, but before I could even thumb through it I was savagely beaten over the head with an American flag.

The inside cover of my passport was adorned with “a lithograph of Moran Percy’s 1913 depiction of Francis Scott Key gesturing to the garrison flag flying above Fort McHenry on the morning of September 13, 1814″ (via No Caption Needed)  and accompanied by a lyrical excerpt from our own national anthem:

O say does that star spangled banner yet wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave

The patriotism didn’t relent from there. The opposite page contained quotes by Abraham Lincoln from the Gettysburg Address:

“…And That Government of the People, By the People, For the People Shall Not Perish From the Earth.”

Having seemingly affirmed the greatness of the United States in no more than two fell swoops, the citizenship-establishing document finally got down to the nitty-gritty displaying the pertinent information of the passport holder (in this case, me) only to be add a reminder  on the opposing page that the United States is not only great because of what happened on the first two pages, but also because it has bald eagles and the constitution, and if you should decide to leave and never come back, you’ll never again get to see another bald eagle reading the constitution near an amber wave of grain.

But hold on, we’re not out of the Great American woods just yet. Whereas my old passport just seemed to have some innocuous, shaded pattern business going on in the background, each additional page on my new passport was replete with patriotic quotes and scenic wonders in between both shining seas. Cacti, Mount Rushmore, a New England Lighthouse, a Mississippi River Steamboat, the Rocky Mountains, the Liberty Bell, and yes the Statue of Liberty were all there as if to say, “we know you’re going somewhere else right now, but just so you know everywhere else kinda sucks.”

I’ll be sure to think about that when I’m scaling a hill along the far off coast of New Zealand, wishing I was leading a cattle drive North from Amarillo. I’ll hear the whistling wind blowing against the rocks and it’ll sound just like the voice of Dwight David Eisenhower saying, “Whatever America hopes to bring to pass in the world must  first come to pass in the heart of America…and oh yeah, this place? Fuck this place.”


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