(Editor's Note: I originally wrote these words in 2004, as part of a class assignment, when I was attending a writing workshop in Oregon, sponsored by the "Becoming an Outdoor Woman" program. I later found out that the giant flag I was seeing from miles away, is in the small town of Dorris, California. The plaque at the base of the Dorris monument says that when the flagpole was erected, it was the tallest flagpole west of the Mississippi River! I am adding this post to my blog at this time, in recognition of our country's celebration of another birthday on July 4, 2011 )I was speeding along U.S. Highway 97 in California, going north into Oregon, in eager anticipation of seeing my son, Grover. The factory-fresh smell of the new Ford Focus was still strong inside the vehicle. It was the first time I'd ever driven a car that only had three miles on its odometer. Hertz had granted me one of their brand-spanking new rentals, and I was glad it was the so-called "economy" size, as gas was now up to $2.39 per gallon (or more!) at every service station.
As my mind day-dreamed, I glanced in my rear-view mirror to see that behind me, God had painted snow-covered Mount Shasta, in a soft pink glow. Out my left window, the sun was slowly setting behind the Cascade mountain range, on its journey to sink into the western horizon. At that very moment, an AMTRAK passenger train was nose-to-nose with me, as it traveled on the railroad track next to the highway. It was challenging me to a race, as we both accelerated toward the border, for our designated stops at Klamath Falls. Ahead of me, seemingly arising out of the point where the highway narrowed in the distance, I saw a flagpole with a gigantic U.S. flag, spread out by the wind, against a brilliant blue sky. I breathed a sigh of gratitude, for the thousands of persons in our armed forces, both past and present, who made it possible for that grand "Ole Glory" to brighten the future of our country. And then, just when I thought it could get no better, and I was thanking God to be at this very place, at this very moment, the familiar song came over the radio "I'm proud to be an American". As tears of joy streamed down my cheeks, I shouted, "AMERICA----WHAT A COUNTRY"!!!