...And Crown Thy Good With Brotherhood
July 1, 2006
Oh beautiful for patriot dreams that seize beyond the years. Thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears. America, America, God shed His grace on thee; and crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.
I am almost ashamed these days to be a patriotic person. I don't wish to be lumped in with the Bible thumpers, the Bush supporters. I don't wish to convey support for anything happening in Iraq, or to have anything to do with the folks screaming about good old fashioned American values from their half-million dollar homes in suburbia.
I wonder sometimes when it was that patriotism became an indication of all that is corrupt in American politics. The flag that stands for world interference. There are a good many Americans who don't believe in the enforcement of democracy, but believe that democracy is a sacred thing. To be achieved and promoted, held up as the model for others to follow, but never force-fed to those that vehemently oppose it. You cannot make a thing love you, and the harder you try, the faster it will flee from you.
When I think of America, I think of promise. I think of the 102 passengers aboard the Mayflower braving storms, disease, poverty and starvation to practice their religion in peace. I think of a handful of farmers marching to meet the British army, of a shot heard 'round the world. I think of the millions of families traveling westward on a beautiful but treacherous journey for opportunity's sake. The struggle of a nation to meld all cultures into one filled with diversity. This is the America I love.
I have to admit that I get a little misty eyed on the fourth of July. It wasn't easy for my ancestors, and I think that makes their legacy all the more valuable. We should remember those people more, what they stood for, and what they wanted for us. We should be thinking more about our children's inheritance as well. War, uncertainty and hate for everything we stand for is not the burden I want to leave them, and we seem to be breeding these things in droves.
I would love it if 100 years from now, some idealistic child started to cry as the fireworks burst over her head and the band swelled to a crescendo. She would be thinking of the things we accomplished, of the freedom and promise that we have passed to her, and she would be glad.