It happened many years ago, but the memories are as fresh as if it happened yesterday. The Youth Mission Team, of which I was a part, had worked most of the summer in Poland, and we were heading home. We had arrived in London the night before and would have one day of sightseeing before boarding the ship for the U.S.
Throughout the summer, we were reminded that the black market was actively stealing and selling passports. As a result, the Polish government suggested that we keep our passports close to us at all times.
In London, we were in a small hotel, and the only other girl on the team was in a room adjacent to mine. I left my room only a few minutes to take a scarf to her. As I turned back toward my room, I saw a teenage boy running out. Inside, my purse had been removed from a dresser drawer and placed on top of the dresser. When I opened the purse, my passport was missing.
Needless to say, there was no sightseeing for me that day. I spend most of it at the American Embassy, where the employees were helpful and encouraging. Also, the United States senator from North Carolina, Clyde R. Hoey, was from my hometown. He helped speed up the process of securing another passport. Even so, the experience was so traumatic that, for months, I had nightmares about it.
Now, so many years later, I will enjoy spending another Fourth of July on American soil. I will give thanks for the beauty of this land, and the spiritual values on which it was founded. Sometime during the day, I will remember the words of Lee Greenwood's song, written in 1984 and revised in 2001. It's entitled, "God Bless the U.S.A." The chorus is:
"I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died who gave that right to me.
And I'll gladly stand up next to you, and defend her still today.
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land.
God bless the U.S.A."
Contact Nell Mohney at email@example.com.