I came of age in the sixties, when it was all the rage to be un-patriotic. It felt like blinders had come off for the first time; we didn’t want to accept the perfect glowing images we had grown up with but were seeing America in all its stark reality. This got ugly fast, of course. Vietnam vets got the brutal end of this, as if risking life and limb wasn’t enough, but you had to put up with immature folks back home ridiculing you for your service.
Then the pendulum swung back after 911. In shoring up our solidarity we reverted back to flags and flag decals everywhere, freedom fries in the congressional cafeteria and presidents decried if they didn’t have their flag pin in their lapel every time they stepped out.
I feel smack in the middle of this spectrum. Having traveled quite a bit, I feel quite strongly that there are few places where I would prefer to live. Religious struggles, authoritarian regimes, overly controlling policies (think.. it’s a crime to spit out your gum), racism/sexism practically built into the system – all of these things make me think I’ll just stay here, thank you very much. On the other side of this fence is my feeling of disquiet about our current political crisis; it’s embarrassing when I travel. (Except when I go to London, as their problems are pretty overwhelming right now as well so they’re not as quick to judge.)
But in general, I’m glad to be an American and will fly my big flag this weekend and stick my little flags out in the front garden. No picnics or parades, but a quiet weekend of gardening and weeding and thinking of those who have fallen for me.
What are your plans for the weekend?