If Our Country Were On Fire, What Would You Save?

It seems to me, I’ve played the game, “If your house is on fire, what would you save?” at various stages of my life. First, as a child with my family. Then, as a young adult with my friends. Followed later as a teacher, trying to see what my students viewed as important and to also get them to see what others value. It was always an interesting game, and it was always fascinating to see the varied responses.

Aside from the inexperienced, and perhaps untested youth, very few people seemed to want to risk their lives for material items. Those willing to risk peril mostly seemed to do so for something sentimental. Those were the items, as I recall, most often cited in the “what would you save?” game.

I’m no different. I’m not dodging flames for electronics, clothing, cash, or even my wallet filled with a host of necessary cards and IDs. They are all replaceable. The only things (excluding family and pets) worth saving are those that cannot be replaced: The last pictures of my parents alive, my grandmother’s ring, my mother’s and grandmother’s journals, and perhaps some lame, yet sentimental poetry I had written throughout my life. Those are the types of things I would take some calculated risks for. (Let me be clear here, though, in case a firefighter is reading this. This is only a game. Of course, I’m immediately running out of the house if there is a fire!)

“If our country were on fire, what would we as a nation want to save?”

Anyway, I started thinking of this game on a vaster scale. I wanted to ponder what those irreplaceable, sentimental things were within our country. So, I quizzically contemplated, “If our country were on fire, what would we as a nation want to save?”

Suddenly, I was besieged with the thoughts of historical documents: The U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Gettysburg Address, the “I Have a Dream” speech, and so on. However, I decided to remove those from the game. The contents of those documents have been duplicated, so despite losing the history of the originals, they technically could be replaced. Besides, we’ll just pretend they are all sealed in a fire-proof vault. Aren’t they?

So now it was time to turn my attention to those iconic landmarks or pieces of history that could not, in true form, be replaced. I probed again, “If our country were on fire, what would I want to save?” Immediately, my thoughts directed themselves to certain symbols of Americana. The images, when shared, simply say, “America,” and each, it seems, tells its own story. In no particular order, here are my “saves.”

1. The White House
2. The Star-Spangled Banner (in the Smithsonian)
3. The Liberty Bell
4. Mount Rushmore
5. Delicate Arch
6. The Grand Canyon
7. The Statue of Liberty
8. The National Mall
9. The Badlands
10. Bryce Canyon
11. Sequoia National Park
12. The Golden Gate Bridge

It really took some time to whittle down this list. There are so many beloved entities that make up this great country. Sadly, I left so many of them out, but not without pouting, I assure you. It’s good to know there are so many. It’s good to know so many places are beloved symbols of this great nation. We’re a country of symbols and beauty and loyalty and history. We know what’s important, and we know what is worth saving.

Our nation, our country, is our house. Each of us a resident. And like the original game of “If your house is on fire, what would you save?” I ask you, “If our country is on fire, what would you save?”