There is a momentary cure for the national malaise that afflicts Americans these days. If you (like me) are weary of the political quagmire in Washington, the endless pitiful stats in the news about our tanking economy, or the fact that your 401K has shriveled like a raisin...HBO has something to make you feel better about the U.S.A. It's the latest documentary from Alexandra Pelosi called Citizen U.S.A.: A 50 State Road Trip. It follows the map to naturalization ceremonies across the country and we see people from all over the world becoming brand new Americans.
I've been in a terrible funk over the end of the U.S. manned space program this week. The space shuttle Atlantis returned from its final voyage, and it felt impossibly sad. It was the end of an era for me, and represented the demise of something that I dearly loved and cherished about this country; the pioneer spirit. Citizen U.S.A. helped me break out of my pity party for a moment, and recognize that people from Afghanistan, Iraq, Korea, China, Hungary, the Netherlands and (yes) even Canada, can still find ways to not take the freedoms we have in America for granted. And they prove it by forsaking their birth countries with an oath to become citizens of the U.S.A. They do it in all 50 states in ceremonies that are homespun, corny, delightful and uplifting. Citizen U.S.A. gives us a glimpse of the joy that is felt by people of all colors from all corners of the Earth, who raise their right hand for America. It's a chance to feel red, white and blue again, if only for an hour.
This documentary is part of the HBO documentary summer series, and it premiered (appropriately) on July 4th. I was traveling that week, so forgive me for providing this recommendation a few weeks late. You can still find Citizen U.S.A. on HBO on Demand in their documentary section.