Born on the Fourth of July

A fictional email sent from the future, with a warning about the United States.

Hi, my name is Jacob and I am writing to you from the year 2071. As you read this, some of you may be surprised or even astonished that a letter could be sent from the future. But recent technology developed at the Steve Jobs Think Grapes Foundation has established “low bandwidth” levels of time travel. Anyhow, I will keep it simple. 

As most of you should know, Steve Jobs was the wizard at a company called Apple, which still exists but has splintered into two: iGrapes and Apple. Jobs created iGrapes before his death and left a secret technology that would revolutionize the world. This technology was developed at a place called CERN. (For those who are interested, use the tool you call Google to find out what CERN is.)  

Long story short, I am using that technology right now to help you see a future that is not pretty for a country you currently call the United States of America.

I decided to send this letter because it follows a very important day for me: my birthday! I was born on the fourth of July in 2011 and understand how important that date is to many of you who will read this. My father, who fought in a war that many of you will recognize as the Iraq war had just come home. I was born in a state called Massachusetts and I was told my birthday was special because it celebrated the birth of America.

For obvious reasons, I do not remember much about my young years and do not have many memories of my father. My mother explained that my dad had never recovered from the war and had a hard time finding employment and “got sick” and passed away. She never would talk about him when I asked and like most people her age, barely discussed anything in the past. What I do remember of the past in somewhat sad, tragic and uneventful all in one.

As I write this letter in the future, there is no United States of America. It fell a long, long time ago. I was in my early 20s when it officially happened. Many in my day have debated why it fell, and it seems everyone has an opinion. Before my mother died, she told me that Americans lost a common purpose. Just like my mother, light on details but straight to the point.

From what I remember, it seemed my mother had a point. It appeared that everybody who lived on my street was always doing these odd jobs that didn’t pay well and the school that their kids attended were overloaded with kids. When I was in school, the teachers could only baby-sit us because there were over 60 kids in a class. Some of the lucky kids from that time period were able to go to a thing called private school, which my mom said was too expensive.

By the time I hit high school, almost every school had closed and people started home schooling their kids, which then evolved into town schools. Basically, parents took turns teaching and watching the kids in a town, while everyone else looked for work.

At this point America was involved in so many wars, it was difficult to keep track of. Some kids I knew enlisted simply because it offered an opportunity for a better life. One kid left the Army to work for a private company that specialized in war and defense. He made a lot of money, but he once sent a text message saying all he did was fly into countries and protect “fat rich guys” and kill dirt poor innocent kids.  

Every year, my mother would host a party for my birthday and to celebrate the Fourth of July. But no one really cared about anything that was America. A vivid memory of this time period was people complaining about a lot of different things, but also being very divided. Almost everyday we were told about some law being passed that benefited these companies no one ever heard of and, most of these companies did not even operate in America. A majority of people stopped caring and no one even talked about all the wars we were in.  It was if they weren’t even happening. It was very strange.

Anyhow, I can spare you those details because I am sure they sound very familiar to you right now. But, by the time the country fell, it had basically already been lost, or whatever it was. I will never forget the day it officially happened.

A populist Presidential candidate by the name of Martinez had just been elected, beating the incumbent who was a former C.E.O. in the energy industry. Essentially, he continued what had been happening for decades. He eliminated programs such as Social Security, Medicare and allowed companies to opt out of paying health insurance.

A policy was enacted under his administration that allowed the military to hire foreign-born citizens at a much cheaper cost than American citizens. As a result, much of the U.S. military was inhabited with non-citizens from less developed countries.

American soldiers, like my friend, were working for private security firms who were loyal not to America, but for the company’s bottom line. So after the results were announced, Martinez released a statement, backed up with a signature of 20 different governors and three different generals from the Air Force and Marines that he would not leave the White House. For the next year, chaos ensued across America. 

Eventually, the U.S. split into five regional zones: Vermont, (where I live) along with all New England states became one zone. (Initially, New Hampshire threatened to become independent, but by 52 percent vote, joined the New England states.) California joined with Denver, Oregon, New Mexico and the western-southern part of Texas. The rest of Texas joined other surrounding southern states called The Independent Republic States of Texas. The Rust Belt became a zone, but it is a wasteland and not many people live there and it's quite dangerous. 

The Heartland became a gigantic zone that also incorporated both Dakotas and places such as Montana. Also, some things you may find interesting: Louisiana is no longer a livable place as two huge hurricanes combined with four oil spills along the coastline made the state a hazardous wasteland. There is now oil drilling where the city of New Orleans was once located. Cuba is part of The Independent Republic States of Texas.

I am sorry to be a downer, but maybe by sending this letter, it may change the future of the U.S. I love the idea of what America was. In my time, I am somewhat of a celebrity in the world. I am the last person alive who was born on the Fourth of July to have lived in what once was the United States of America. Every year on the Fourth, reporters from around the world come to Vermont and ask me what I think about America and what I think could have prevented it from falling.

Like my mother, the only thing that makes any sense is American people, as a whole, lost their collective purpose. So, I guess my message to all of you Americans, is find that common purpose or risk losing it all.

Somewhere in the future,

This message was sent from an iGrape.

Donna O'Brien July 05, 2011 at 11:18 PM
This is beautifully written and tugs at my heart. Thanks, Jack!!
karen dempsey carney July 06, 2011 at 10:17 AM
Jack I think you are the best but I found this story a bit unpatriotic.
William Brewster July 06, 2011 at 12:27 PM
Shades of Taylor Caldwell, Orwell and Kevin Costner, lol. Great work, Jack.
Jack Kelly July 06, 2011 at 12:27 PM
Hi Karen. First thank you very much for the kind words and also for reading. But I just wanna clarify the point of what I wrote that I believe this 2 be very patriotic. I wanted to reflect on the 4th of July using a little creativity to explain, in a futuristic and realistic way what will happen when current issues go on un addressed. I read a book called "are we Rome" by Collumn Murphy that describes a lot of what i just wrote about, especially in regards to foreign citizens enlisting in our military, which is already happening. Also, a company such as Blackwater secured millions in securities contracts in Iraq. So I'm sorry it came off as un patriotic , but it was meant to be the exact opposite. Hope all is well Karen
JenRay July 06, 2011 at 03:10 PM
loved this!!! simply fascinating Jack


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