Sunday, October 15, 2006

300,000,000th
The news is out that there will soon be 300 million Americans. It will of course be impossible to determine exactly when this milestone will occur and who exactly is the 300 millionth American. So I now call upon my mystical powers to come forth from the inner reaches of the sanctum realm that is my mind to provide you with ten very reasonable probabilities of our lucky winner.
1. A woman with very tired legs and a swollen abdomen has left her three other children with her mother and at this moment stares into the darkness to a black shiny ribbon of water that divides Texas from Mexico. She waits in the weeds as the Border Patrol vehicles pass. She hears a noise and is startled by three men. They wait with her and when the time is right they help her to cross the river. Some yards north of the river in the darkness the men take turns holding and raping her before running off into the dark. The dark is soon shattered by a flashlight held by a Border Patrol Agent. She does not tell of the rape but tells the Agent that she is in labor and he calls for an ambulance that rushes her to the hospital. She gives birth to a baby girl in the ambulance and in the morning when she leaves the hospital with the infant people give her a look of anger because she had the audacity to come over and have her baby at American taxpayer expense.
2. An 80 year-old Vietnamese woman raises her right hand along with several hundred other people as the media cameras take photos and shoot video. The flash of the camera instantly take her back to a village and the scene of her husband, who was a school teacher, being executed by the Vietcong as her house is set on fire. Her daughters clinging to her as she weeps. Her sons taken long ago to fight with the Vietcong would be killed by American napalm. Later her daughters would become part of a multitude of boat people fleeing Vietnam. Both would reach the United States and work hard, marry, raise their children and eventually immigrate their mother to the United States to live out her life being taken care of by a grateful family. Her grandson, who was named after her murdered husband, is the District Judge presiding over the naturalization ceremony.
3. In a ceremony across the country a man in a $2,000 suit raises his hand and swears to abide by the Constitution. The man from El Salvador smiles ear to ear after taking his oath and waves to friends who will now attend a lavish party in his honor. He will watch children play games in the large lawn of his Virginia estate and barely think of the times he pulled the trigger of a .45 caliber pistol held to the temple of a man whose hands were bound, who had been beaten, and whose name he didn't know. It wasn't important. None of their names were important to him.
4. In the private birthing suite nurses, attendants, and a doctor gather around a woman in agony. A videographer hired to capture the blessed event moves about to get the best discreet angle. Soon, out comes an infant covered in fluid and attached to his mother by a blue green cord. He begins to cry and everybody else begins to smile and laugh. This baby will have a hyphenated name and is already assured a spot in the finest nursery school that his nanny can drive him to. Summers in Newport and winters in Aspen. Ivy League and a place in a top east coast law firm named after his grandfather.
5. A baby girl is presented to her mother who holds the hungry infant to her breast and dreams of her future. "She is going to be a star" the mother proclaims. "I can tell it just by looking at her. She's going to have me to steer her clear of all the mistakes I made". The nurses look at each other in some disbelief. In a few days the baby will be turned over to the care of her grandmother while her mother awaits trial for shooting her abusive husband to death.
6. A boy is born in an Atlanta hospital. His mother holds him as his father is overcome with joy. Just weeks ago a promising pro career came to an end with an injury. The scholarship money and the passing grades vanished soon after. The father carries the infant over to the window so he can look out. "See that world out there son? It used to be at my feet but now it looks the other way. But none of that matters because now I have you and I swear to God almighty that I'm going to do everything to raise you like my momma raised me. Night school until I get my degree and three jobs if that's what it takes. I used to be able to beat the defense. Now I'm going to beat the odds. Just you watch me".
7. On November 1st my granddaughter will be born. Her parents are separated and my wife and I await the first chance we will get to hold this precious child. Born in Canada to an American mother will make her a citizen of both nations. She will also have Bolivian and Mexican heritage to be proud of. If she becomes anything like her brother we will have our hands full. Our hearts too.
8. In Iraq the women huddle around as one cries in pain. Returning to Iraq full of hope for a new democracy and a better country the two naturalized U.S. citizens have lived to regret that they relied on politicians who as it turned out, lied. One of the soon to be born American citizen's grandfathers was murdered by Hussein. The other was kidnapped and killed just last week as he went out to buy diapers and formula.
9. Seven Marines in dress blues fire three rounds each over a casket that is about to be lowered into the grave. A burial at Arlington cemetery is a high honor as it is America's most hallowed ground. That does not matter to a weeping mother as she is presented a folded American flag. Several of the mourners carry Mexican flags. The soldier, a permanent resident alien, was killed in Afghanistan, and by law, will be granted United States citizenship, and awarded a Silver Star, posthumously.
10. In a small town a newborn child is held by her mother. Her father sheds a tear and smiles. The baby's room was just finished last week and a surplus of stuffed animals fills a hall closet. The two had just joked that they had enough left over for three Christmases and a couple of birthdays. They were about to buy a new car when the doctor informed them that those plans might best be put on hold. A box of drug store cigars await to be handed out at work and the elementary school where she works is holding her job for her to return when she is up to it.

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