Gary Lindstrom: What makes a country a home
February 17, 2008
“You can never go home again” is a saying that I think about a lot. It is the title of a book by Thomas Wolfe.
One reviewer in Bookreporter.com, an online book review, wrote about Wolfe’s book:
“George Webber has written a successful novel about his family and hometown.
When he returns to that town, he is shaken by the force of outrage and hatred that greets him. Family and life-long friends feel naked and exposed by what they have seen in his books, and their fury drives him from his home. Outcast, George Webber begins a search for his own identity. It takes him to New York and a hectic social whirl; to Paris with an uninhibited group of ex-patriots; to Berlin, lying cold and sinister under Hitler’s shadow. The journey comes full circle when Webber returns to America and rediscovers it with love, sorrow, and hope.”
I grew up in a very small town in Northwestern Iowa in the 1940s and 50s. I moved to San Antonio, Texas, when I was 18 and went on to live in Wichita Falls, Texas; New York City; Macon, Georgia; Alconbury, England; Toul-Rosiers, France; Frankfurt, Germany; Ramstein, Germany; and back to New York City.
In Colorado I have lived in Denver, Golden, Conifer, and then to Summit County.
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I moved to Colorado 38 years ago so I guess this is home. I moved to Summit County 34 years ago so I guess that solidifies it. I have lived in Summit County longer than I have lived anywhere else.
In the past three years, I have also lived in Mexico for two months and Guatemala for parts of three months. I could call either place my home as well.
I know the people in both countries. I have a working knowledge of their language. I understand their educational systems having studied in both countries. I call many of the people in each country friends.
If home is where the heart is, then there is some of my heart in Mexico and Central America. One of my jobs as an intelligence specialist in the Air Force was to show films to the staff officers about political issues and the direction the Pentagon felt that our “enemy” was headed in a quest for world domination.
One common theme of those political films was that all of the people in the Eastern Block countries were very poor, hungry and uneducated and were laying awake at night in their beds wishing they could live in the United States.
In the years since, I have been able to become friends with many people from countries in the former Soviet Union. To a person they all say that they never wanted to live in the United States. They loved their homeland and wanted to live there the rest of their lives. They did know that things could have been improved but the improvement needed to occur at home and not be part of moving halfway around the world to a so called “better life.”
That is the same response I got from talking to my friends in Mexico and Guatemala.
None of them wanted to move to the United States. All of them wanted to make a decent income and have a good job much the same as the typical American. But they never spent any time harboring a desire to move to the United States to live.
Several months ago I wrote a column about all of the Canadians who are in the United States taking jobs away from our fellow Americans. Of course I was kidding but the principle is the same.
We all want to make enough money to take care of our family. Sometimes people have to go to a different country to achieve that goal. The same way I had to leave Iowa and go somewhere else to make enough money to take care of my family. I even went to several foreign countries to achieve that goal.
This is home to people who were born here and to people who have come here to earn a living to support their families regardless of where they may live. It is truly a human rights issue and not the political issue it has become.