The notice left on our door by the construction company informed us we wouldn’t have access to our driveway for a few days and would need to park our vehicles across the street or elsewhere.
A major construction effort soon would be underway on our street. The sidewalks in our West Chandler neighborhood, established in 1992, weren’t in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Sure enough, just before 5 a.m., heavy machinery rolled up in front of our house and an army of men (plus one stalwart, very tough-looking woman) sprang into action.
Decked out in their neon-green T-shirts and blue jeans, they set to work tearing up concrete and rebuilding.
My family and I watched with gratitude. And I wonder: Would I have had the same thankful reaction if I’d married someone else back in 1986?
Through the years, my husband, a native of Venezuela, has taught me and our five sons to see the United States through the appreciative eyes of an immigrant, who hails from a country that has descended into lawlessness and chaos.
The last time Pipo and I visited Venezuela was in 1992, not long before we moved to Chandler. We walked the streets of the little oil-refinery town where he grew up and visited the park where he and his brothers played as children. I think in his mind he wanted to share with me one of the happier neighborhood venues he frequented as a young boy.
When we came upon this childhood refuge, we discovered the grass was mostly dead and the playground equipment was rusted and in disrepair. The sidewalks in the surrounding area were crumbling, uplifted in many places by tree roots or shot through with weeds.
Pipo shook his head in dismay, taking in the decrepit environs. Venezuela, mind you, is a founding member of OPEC and has the largest oil reserves in the world, greater even than Saudi Arabia.
It is a vast wealth which has been squandered. A country with resources such as Venezuela, it would seem, certainly could afford street maintenance, but that hasn’t happened. Meanwhile, tens of thousands starve and anyone who isn’t part of the corrupt regime struggles to survive.
Pipo’s sister was overjoyed when he spoke with her recently because, she said, their formerly middle-class town had water twice that week.
So when our family sees construction workers in our neighborhood fixing the sidewalks, we give thanks to God for the freedom and opportunities here in the U.S. and those who defend us.
We fly an American flag in front of our house all year long. We know our country isn’t perfect, but we also know there’s nowhere else we’d rather be.
Except maybe in Okinawa alongside our son, 1st Lieutenant Jonathan Coronel, USMC.
Happy Fourth of July!