What's it like to have a tail?

All the children have asked me this at least once.

Does it help you balance?

Does it feel weird?

Then they look so expectant and ready to listen, as though I am about to impart to them some great secret from a distant land. But I only look at them and smile. I have a question of my own.

What's it like not having a tail?

Then they go away in guilty silence.

I do not mean to make them feel guilt or shame. I mean it as a serious, honest question.

What would it be like having only four appendages?

What would it be like not having something to catch me when I fall?

But people get nervous around me. They are afraid of hurting my feelings, even if they don't mean to. I want to laugh and reassure them; don't worry! I have heard enough insults to make my ears burn for weeks! Anything that you say unintentionally has no way of being as bad as that!

Why do I make people nervous? Because they have fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of looking me in the yellow eyes, fear of seeing my blue skin and my long tail.

They really are rather foolish.

Why waste up all their fear being afraid of me? There are so many other things to be afraid of in this world; loneliness, suffering, cruelty. Why seek one more thing to be scared of?

I have lived a life of fear. It is not something I would recommend.

For I have also lived a life of peace, and that is worth everything.

This place, this America, has surely been touched by God.

The land is plentiful. Crops grow well, animals can graze, the sun rises and sets as the Statue of Liberty stands guard over the poor and huddled masses.

But though God is present in this land, even He needs help.

So I pray often, and for many people. The list grows longer every day.

I pray for the man who came stumbling down the aisle of my broken cathedral. He shook his fist at the statue of Christ and screamed, 'There is no God!' So broken was his voice, so full of fury that I couldn't even begin to move. He stayed for only a moment before staggering on his drunken way, but I hold him safely in my heart.

I pray for the woman who came around the back of the tent after one circus performance, seeking to talk with one of the acrobats. She ran into me and froze in her steps, before making the sign of the cross with her fingers and backing away. It grieved me then, but now I whisper a prayer for her every night.

I pray for the little boy who was lost in the crowd at the circus one night, and ended up wandering past the lights and the people. I found him crying, but when I lifted him into my arms he became calm, even giving me a kiss of innocence that still burns on my cheek. His mother snatched him from my grasp, but he will always be one of my most cherished memories.

And still now, I find myself in a country full of people needing prayer and guidance. I sit on the roof at night and think of all them, each and everyone one of them with a heart and a soul and the ability to do great things.

I think of the great ones; Martin Luther King, Dorothea Dix, all those amazing figures who realized that every person deserves their rights as a human being, no matter what is 'wrong' with them.

But I think, too, of the great ones who go unnoticed; a single mom working two jobs to raise her little children, a father working himself to the bone to support his family, a teacher who touches the lives of so many eager young children.

These are the heroes that make this country great.

I salute them everyday. I salute that single mom for her tenacity, I salute that father for his sense of duty, I salute that teacher for her nurturing spirit.

Today is Independence Day.

Today, I unfurl a flag that flies in the hearts of everyone in the world. A flag that craves freedom and applauds courage.

Today, we light off fireworks, illuminating the skies as we rejoice in a land that has taken us under its' wing.

We are the poor and huddled masses.

We cling to a dream, and even though we are in a world that demands a realistic look on things, I refuse to let go of this beautiful vision.

Because I know that there will come a day when I can walk down any street in my true form and tell everyone I meet:

I am proud to be an American.

God Bless America.