• Monday, September 04th, 2017

America was, America is, America will always be a red tulip in my heart.

It was the year 1947, and the first time I spoke to a man who walked on American soil.

In his old days, he returned to his old nest, just like the birds who fly home. He recounted a remarkably beautiful story throughout our town about the beautiful American way of life.

This was a story which only butterflies and honeybees could live out in Croatia, former Yugoslavia, during early blossoming spring. It was a country where birds were careful where to land and build their nests. They found peace, and freedom, just like humans after they breathe their last breath and flew high in the sky. The story I heard from the old man about America’s beautiful life has been deeply embedded in my heart. During many nights I dreamt about it, during many days I searched for it. There was not anything that I could find that compared to the story told by the old man. In that early spring of 1947, a beautiful red tulip grew in our backyard, by the stoop where I used to sit and watch the sunrise. Daily, I thought, wished, and hoped that one day I would find a slice of this wonderful life, which included peace and freedom. The story I heard about the American life caused a certain restlessness within me. I walked around, imagining and wondering. One day, I walked through our backdoor, and I sat on the stoop which was very close to the red tulip shaped like a deep funnel with a colorful large heart. The tulip grew on a high stem. A mild wind blew and the tulip shook slightly. The sunrise foretold the beginning of a beautiful day. A few bees flew and landed around the tulip’s heart. They were collecting pollen, and they flew back and forth, without any fear. This scene was the first time in my life that I found a perfect match to the story the old man had told about the beautiful American life. Every day, I watched the tulip grow, and I decided to call it America. I watched the bees circling around the tulip’s heart, and I called them immigrants.

I was nine years old in 1947, and I remember the red tulip on top of the high stem, as though it were yesterday. It was grafted to my heart. From time to time, and throughout my life, the red tulip with its healthy, big heart surrounded by an abundance of pollen, made me worry and think.

On September 11, 2001, the sun rose on a beautiful morning. New Yorkers walked freely, but before the sun reached its highest peak, the sky was covered with ashes and black smoke. The red tulip in my backyard was wounded. American life and its freedom were hurt. I remembered the sad events of WW2 and my heart was in pain. September 11 reopened that same wound. When I saw smoke and flames, I stared. At that point I closed my eyes, for it was too hard for me to cry. I heard myself saying, “God, no!” I heard my own voice. When I put my short, yellow pencil down to write, I asked myself many times, “How far can the line grow from a small dot?” I worry about the red tulip on a high stem, and every bee who lands and walks around it. Up to the time I was nine years old, I held painful memories which slowly eased, and my wishes and hopes came true. Fifty four years later, the red tulip with a big heart which is grafted to mine, was shaken. This terrible wound is hard to heal. I would like tell every bee around the world, “Cling closely to the red tulip, the one on a high stem. Don’t let any nasty wind shake it again. Don’t forget the pollen, the sweet honey, the freedom, and the peace. On windy, rainy, foggy, and cold days, America, the red tulip, was always waiting for you with an open heart and wide spread arms.” I would like to tell every bee, an immigrant like me who searched for larger crumbs and peace, that in America we found freedom and honey, just like the lucky bees. Don’t fly away. Tell the world the truth about what freedom is and the truly sweet taste it has. America was, is, and will always be the blessed land, where birds and honeybees like to land and build a safe nest. America, a beautiful red tulip, is the only one underneath the big blue sky. Every bee underneath it owes you a lot. American wind, don’t blow my last breath far away. America, I want you to walk and plant flowers and green grass on top of my bed. America, my last words, my last wish will be to ask you, “May I hold your roots and be bound up in them for eternity?” America, a beautiful red tulip, I will leave you all of my written words. Although they may not be much, they are my true and deepest feelings.

I hope and pray that God heard many voices on that unforgettable day of 911, just as I heard my voice saying, “God no!” America’s children, and all children on this earth, your true wish and your true voice can be accepted and heard. Your honesty and pure innocence can save what hate seeks to destroy and make extinct.


Category: Reflections
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