A Letter by Garrett Cathcart to America

Garrett Cathcart   |   September 11, 2021


I love you so much, but you’ve changed. I’d do anything for you, but I don’t recognize who you are anymore, and it hurts. I won’t let you fall apart. I can’t—it’s too important.

Did I ever tell you how I first learned about you? It was through others talking about you at the parties we threw for you every summer. Oh, those parties, A. They were enthralling. The way the sweet smoke rolled off the grill, and I’d try and swipe a burger before they were done.

I saw you there among all of the friends and neighbors laughing, slapping each other on the back and enjoying themselves. They were talking about their kids, their hopes, and dreams—and of course you, A. They talked about how you were the one that made it all possible. Those people in that backyard came from so many different places, some from other parts of the world, and yet, the way they all talked about you was mesmerizing. I know it was a party to celebrate you, and man, were they raving about you.

They talked about how you inspire others to be their best, what an incredible leader you are, how much you love to see others rise and how you help them to do so. They told stories about how you stood up to those who wanted to hurt other people, and that you always did what was right. Even when it hurts. They talked about how strong and good you were, but that you didn’t need to tell everyone how strong you were. They just knew.

I learned there were books about you. I read them—devoured them. That’s when I fell in love with you. Not too long after those books, I swore an oath that I would do anything for you—and I’ve spent my entire adult life doing just that. It has been the honor of my life loving you and protecting you, keeping you safe. In fact, it is the defining quality of my life.

I will never forget where I was exactly 20 years ago today. It’s when you were hurt. Ambushed by people who hated you and your ideas. It shattered me—and everyone from those summer parties—into a million pieces. We were all stunned and numb. The numbness turned to rage, and we felt compelled to do something. We had to go after the people that hurt you.

Something else happened though. We were supposed to grow back stronger in the broken places. And for a time, we did. Everyone that loves you banded together to support each other in such an amazing way. Even people that came from wildly different backgrounds and had never met were connected. There were no strangers and I saw the best of what we can be as humans. I know you saw it too. It was amazing. I was so proud of us.

Do you remember when I went to go after the people that hurt you? There are so many letters I will write about that, but man, that gave me experiences and emotions I never thought possible—far outside the range of the average human existence. I felt such intense joy and pride. I fear I will ever experience those highs again. There were so many hard times, too. My best friend died. A lot more of my friends died for you.

You made promises. You made a promise that if I worked hard that this would be successful. You made that same promise to a lot of people, A. I fear you’re on the way to not keeping your word. The first step to solving any problem is to first admit we have a problem—we are not ok. We haven’t been for a little while, and we were too scared to admit it.

A, I’ve bled for you, and had my heart broken for you. Now I fear you’re on the way to breaking my heart. I know what we can be. I’m pleading—don’t give up on us yet.

I have cried tears of joy seeing you accomplish great things, and because I love you so much. Because of who you are, what you stand for, and what we can be. I’ve also wept at our failings. We have so much to work on, but I believe in us. Is too important to quit. We owe it to each other to give everything.

I hope we can heal. I hope we can be what we were meant to be. You mean so much to so many people. More than you even know. People from all over the world look at us—at who we used to be, and who we still can be. We were their example of what was right, and of how it should be.

I’ve lost sleep and walked the streets early in the morning with hot coffee burning my hand through the paper cup wondering: how did we get here? How can we find our way back to each other? How do we restore what we had, and become what we were always meant to be?

I am committed to this. I am fiercely committed to us. We cannot fail–it’s far too important, and the consequences of you falling apart are catastrophic. I know we can both grow. I know we can both change.

I firmly believe in us, and I know beyond all doubts that we can have a More Perfect Union.