My friend Jill Schiefelbein was in Africa this month, and she stayed in touch with me during her visit. Her reports were a vivid reminder that the greatest gift we Americans have known is having been born an American.
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My friend visited a Kenyan hospital. There was no electricity. No air conditioning. There were no fans, no ice, no cold water. Mosquito nets were hung over the beds of patients, lifeless in the searing heat.
Children are pulled out of grade school because their parents cannot afford the education fees. On one of the islands, young girls prostituted themselves to fishermen for the most basic of life’s necessities. She saw young boys and girls so malnourished that bones protruded from their skin.
One of my clients also sent me pictures from his district in Nairobi. People live in tin covered shacks. There is no garbage pickup. Open sewers run through the mud streets. The day begins with a search for food. For many, it is a task that consumes their day.
For the past year we have heard our political candidates bemoan the American condition. Sometimes it is helpful to remember that despite our challenges, most people in this world will never know or experience the rich abundance we Americans take for granted. They will never know the freedoms we claim as a right of birth.
I will be in Africa later this year. I am helping several young candidates lead the effort to eradicate the squalid conditions no child of God should endure. I hope this past weekend you paused to remember the purpose of Memorial Day, and the reason we celebrate it. I hope this message serves to remind you that despite our problems we Americans are the most fortunate people to inhabit the earth.
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