Today is the Fourth of July. It's always been a favorite day, full of family celebrations and parades and awe-inspiring fireworks. It's been a reminder of patriotism, of lives lost, and of sacrifices made. Of the amazing glory of our comparatively young country.
Do I still feel this way? Not so much. There is no place right now for those who tread the middle ground, which leaves many of us longing for the way things used to be. If I'm honest about it, I'll admit they weren't really that way even then. I guess we were just a lot politer about it.
There are things, though, that still feel the same. My husband, my brother, our son, and our grandson have all served--or still serve--in the military. I am proud of their service, proud of them, and proud of others who have answered that call. There is no limit to the love and gratitude I feel. When I watched my husband give our grandson (who now outranks him) his first salute as an officer, I re-understood the meaning of having one's heart swell with pride.
I remember, though, don't you? During Vietnam Era when people spat on soldiers? When they called them baby-killers. When the government tried to deny the damage that had been done to our own by Agent Orange and by the greed that led much of the war. So, no, not always better. I not only worry about my grandson having to fight in wars not of his generation's making, but of his own countrymen treating him badly when he is at home.
I love the flag and I'll always stand for the anthem. But I'm happy the USA is still a place where it's your choice whether you stand or kneel or go on watching television when it plays. While I think burning the flag, emblazoning a political figure's face all over it, or making it into a shirt is disgusting, you are free to do so.
And, oh, yes...protesters burned it "back then," too. There was a lot of noise about making it a constitutional amendment that outlawed burning it. But they didn't really do much about the reason for the protests. And the only amendments most people honor are the ones they deem the most important. The First one is big to me, but many people are perfectly willing to ditch it in a heartbeat as long as the Second one remains untouched.
So many people are angry. That includes me. We all feel betrayed by more people and more things than I can begin to name or understand. The Fourth of July holiday and all it's stood for for all these 244 years is just having the crap beat out of it, isn't it?
I'm a sucker for patriotic songs. I remember most of the words to the ones we learned as kids and cop to having cold chills whenever I hear "God Bless the USA." Especially that one piece of a line in it: "...the flag still stands for freedom..."
It does, as it has for that 244 years, but if it's not standing for everybody's freedom, well, we have a really long way to go as a country, don't we?
Happy 4th of July, USA, and everybody in it. Have a good week. Stay safe. Be nice to somebody.