Babies carry hope of families
Published 9:32 pm Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Last month America welcomed its 300 millionth citizen.
And the Whipple family welcomed its newest member.
My nephew Jack missed being the estimated 300 millionth American by about two days - although some experts think the 300 millionth American probably walked into the country from Mexico months earlier, rather than was born into a hospital.
Babies born at the same time as my nephew can expect to live longer - to 85 or 90 - and will live in a much more crowded country. Our nation's population is growing by about one person every 14 seconds - a rate that could put us at 400 million in just 40 years.
I'd like to think that all those millions of babies will be born into the same kind of loving arms that welcomed my nephew - but I know that simply isn't true.
And to single one out as the 300 millionth American might be fun, but it belies how special each baby is.
These tiny new people - born on the day that poet Philip Levine called “the hardest day of their lives” - carry the hopes of their parents and their families into the future.
In that moment, we want to believe each has the potential for greatness, no matter his circumstances. That's the American dream.
Sometimes what happens to those new little lives, in this country where they are privileged to live, can be as much our responsibility as it is their parents.
I know how lucky Jack is, to be born to parents who will shower him with affection and teach him discipline and character. He might even grow up to help make sure that life is better for every child that will come after him.
On the day he was born, Jack was the only baby in the world to those of us gathered in a small hospital room in Tennessee.
He may not have been the 300 millionth American, but, like all babies, Jack is a milestone - and a miracle - all his own.
Kerry Whipple Bean is publisher of The Brewton Standard. She can be reached at 867-4876 or by e-mail at email@example.com.