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A Reason to Celebrate

Jun
30
2006

Excuse me. I don’t want to be too intrusive and, really, you don’t have to listen if you don’t want to.
I just want to let you know . . . no, suggest . . . that maybe, possibly, if you are a U.S. citizen and only if you want to . . . you can be a little, well. . . patriotic on July 4th.
I mean, it’s okay if you want to be. But you don’t have to. I’m just saying…
I know displays of U.S. nationalism annoy a lot of people. They’re afraid it’s all going to turn into a Nazi rally. Or they wonder what there is to celebrate.
And then there’s that whole “Europeans viewing us as trashy nouveau riche cousins” thing going on abroad. So we don’t want to be too showy or think too much of ourselves.
Guiltily I have to say the 4th of July has become the day you hope won’t land on a Wednesday, a four-out-of-seven chance to get a four-day weekend.
I’m a long way from my early 1960s grammar school days where politics and citizenship were two very separate things. No one would have thought to not say the Pledge of Allegiance because it meant absolutely nothing to us other than part of the morning routine. I never realized how disconcerting this was to some in the aftermath of World War II, when ripples of anti-Semitism were still churning under the tidiness of the Eisenhower years. Recently a friend pointed out that if you just straighten your arm and replace the Stars and Stripes with a Swastika, clean cut American school children look just like Hitler Youth.
Back then, no one talked about George Washington spending most of the Revolutionary War running away from the British or Abraham Lincoln being bipolar. They were great presidents, as was the current president, whether it was Kennedy or Nixon. I’m still uncomfortable insulting anything personal about a president, whether it‘s Bill Clinton’s sex life or George W. Bush’s brain. Their policies are fair game, but they are still The President.
I never realized how far we’d come from the type of citizenship I grew up with until I found myself running a Cub Scout pack. Not one child knew The Star Spangled Banner, America, or America the Beautiful. They had no problem, however, annoying me with Achy, Breaky Heart or Right Said Fred’s I’m Too Sexy. Now really, I don’t go in for the sappy, emotional contrivances that show up during football games, usually sung by some country singer. But I admit I’ve got to bite down hard and do a whole lot of blinking when I hear a full band play The Stars and Stripes Forever (even if in my head I am still singing, “Be kind to your web-footed friends…”).
So I have to admit that for the first time in a long time, I’m feeling like I want to allow myself to be a little patriotic this year. I know it’s a time when everyone is feeling anything but, what with the claims that the whole country is polarized into two camps with one camp calling the other “stupidheads” and the other camp calling them “smartypants” back; and one side claiming the Constitution is under fire and the other claiming our freedom is under fire.
The thing that strikes me, and is perhaps the reason why I’m feeling a little misty-eyed, is that no one is hiding their anger. We get feisty and a lot of times downright rude. Sometimes we’re even jerks about what we believe in. We rant, we write, and are sometimes cowardly about it by waiting until we’re out of the country to be critical. But we’re not homicidal and the smartypants haven’t yet declared war on the stupidheads.
Here’s the thing: I have smartypants friends and I have stupidhead friends (and, no, I’m not going to link anything to those words. . .) and they all know I’m a smartystupidpants (or a stupidsmartyhead) and they even know each other. I’ve got to believe that there are other chains of friends like us, who don’t even realize they are the reason to feel patriotic this Independence Day because everyone keeps telling us we’re not speaking to each other.
So, yeah, I’m going to celebrate this year and not just take advantage of the big, big super savings on Toyotas and mattresses. I might search out a band to play The Stars and Stripes Forever and have a picnic and go see fireworks.
And, you know, it’s okay if you celebrate too, if you want.
Just keep it down.

Share  Posted by Jeanne Jackson at 11:33 AM | Permalink

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