Danna D. Schmidt

Master Life-Cycle Celebrant®

Ordained Wedding Officiant

Funerals/Memorials Specialist

Monthly Archives: July 2015

Patriot Games


“I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
(Black, glistening,
it tasted like beets.)
I am from the forsythia bush
the Dutch elm
whose long-gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own.”
George Ella Lyon, excerpt from “Where I’m From”


Where I’m from, we fly a few flags of celebration each summer. We begin the process in late June as we fly our maple leaf flag to mark Canada Day on July 1. We swap that out for our stars and stripes flag in time for U.S. Independence Day on July 4th. Our last flag gets hung up in honor of Swiss National Day on August 1st and its symbol is the red cross.  All three of these great nations has extended us countless freedoms, civic duties and an unending pride of place; and we celebrate our place of patriotism with each.  

What can I say? I come from the many and I’m not alone. Home is a mosaic of fidelities and citizenships, and I have learned to find it in uncommon places upon this planet. I know it for its imprint stories or origin and birth, feel it with my alma matters, attach it to all things family ties, am reminded of it in my mailbox full of mortgage and healthcare bills, and I intuit it through each place pin that wants to perma-pierce a hole into my heart. There are 220 million of us who live in countries not technically our own. For we the ex-pats of this 5th largest nation state of migrants, “home has less to do with a piece of soil,” as Pico Iyer insists, “than with a piece of soul.” Home is ultimately where and what we make of it. I appreciate what he has to say about home relative to the ways we both find and lose it here on planet Earth.

I have come to call more than two dozen places and four countries home in my lifetime, and I have learned to look inward for the Home Sweet Home sign. And while I am as home in the city as I am in the midst of the wide-open prairies, the base of the mountains or the edge of the sea, I am most at home in places where there is a strong sense of community and purpose. In every locale I have pulled up roots, I have affirmed my residency, however temporally, to the degree to which I have felt free to be, a call to exploration, a feeling of aliveness, an array of life choices, and an unending sense of self-sovereignty. We do not have many ceremonial markers to celebrate what it means to know freedom and patriotism, which is why these we fly our flags of liberty so proudly and fervently on these days in which our respective nations’ sovereignty is exclaimed in accordance with how many years we’ve been strong and free. To be of, from and for freedom is one of our highest forms of expression as humans.

It’s why we wear our colors and paint our faces and have bike parades and buy fireworks and sing our songs of patriotism. And it’s why I’m a sucker for landed immigrant stories and naturalization ceremonies. Ultimately, where we’re from is as much about our tales of origin and our pilgrimage of places, as it is our newfound homeland securities.

Today, on this, my tenth 4th of July as a permanent resident of the United States of America, I celebrate what it has meant to me to pull up roots in this great Pacific Northwestern corner of the US. When I first arrived here from Canada, I was weary of the wording in the Pledge of Allegiance and not entirely sure I could ever embody such a staunch performative utterance of blinders-on dedication to one’s country. Throughout my first decade from Katrina to Keystone though, America the beautiful has taught me a lifetime of wisdom about social justice, faith and our so-called freedom. And while we the people have a long, long way to go in forming a more perfect union, I feel proud to be standing upon American soil at this epoch in our history as the moral majority do our best to work and figure it all out.

True, I will wear our Swiss and Canadian colors of red and white today, but I will also add blue in bold and spangled measure for the northern neighbor part of me that honors all that it meant to be warmly welcomed to this land of the free and home of the brave.

Say it RITE…the Ceremonious Way!