It was a Fourth of July celebration I will never forget.
I was honored to be invited to a friend’s naturalization ceremony. He came to the US as an adult to live the American dream. I witnessed the long hours he invested learning what he needed to know to become an engaged American citizen.
On a warm July Fourth, I joined thousands of people who cheered as their loved ones and friends said the Pledge of Allegiance as US citizens for the first time.
Gary Locke congratulated the new Americans and told his story. A hundred years earlier, his grandfather left China on a steamboat to work as a houseboy for an American family in Washington State. His grandfather washed dishes, gardened and swept floors in exchange for English lessons.
And a hundred years later, this man's grandson was sworn in as the Governor of the State of Washington. Governor Locke's then home--the Governor’s mansion-- is one mile from the house where his grandfather worked. He noted that it took his family one hundred years to travel one hundred yards.
That July 4th I celebrated the American Dream. I understood viscerally that we are blessed to live in this land of opportunity.
In my home we have a saying, "For any problem, there is a solution." Sometimes the problems seem daunting. Sometimes the solutions are not easy to find. That's when I call on my belief in the American Dream.
On April 1, 2020 a dozen anesthesiology resident physicians from Massachusetts General Hospital kicked off an audacious public challenge to design a ventilator that could address the shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Just three months and more than 200 submissions later, a team of engineering alumnae, staff and faculty from Smith College won the competition.
Smith College Engineering Professor Susannah Howe said, “To a person, we came into this not knowing anything about ventilators. In two months we went from knowing nothing to having a functional prototype. That’s just crazy."
That's the crazy American Dream.
Yes, on July 4th, 2020 we face big challenges. We're all also invited into our greatness so that one day we can declare independence from the things that keep us apart from each other --and from each of our dreams.
Have a safe and happy 4th!
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© 2020. Vicki Rackner MD is an author, speaker and consultant who offers a bridge between the world of medicine and the world of business. She helps businesses acquire physician clients, and she helps physicians run more successful practices. Contact her at (425) 451-3777.