Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My America

I'm reconsidering the flag today. My husband wanted to put one in front of the house on November 5, but I said absolutely not. He argued that he was awfully proud to be a citizen of the country that had elected Barack Obama president. I argued that I was really not interested in being identified with the kinds of citizens who put flags in their yards. That was that. Flag waving has represented something akin to wearing gang colors for me since September 11, 2001. After the tragedy at the World Trade Center, everything suddenly had a flag in front of it, on top of it, or sewn into it. My son's high school football jersey was temporarily recalled so a flag could be added just above the numbers. One of my neighbors turned his entire double garage door into a painted flag. When I showed up for a meeting of the community board I served on, I found a flag pin at my chair. I was the only board member who didn't wear that pin to every subsequent meeting. It was as though showing our red, white, and blue was synonymous with flexing our muscle or drawing a line in the sand or saying, "Don't even think about it!" I wasn't interested. That's not what peaceniks do. We peace lovers cry, and pray, and light candles in the aftermath of violence. We read about suspected terrorists and try to figure out why they hate us enough to kill us. We think about the women with husbands and children who live in the terrorists' lands. And then we cry some more. And we know when the gang colors come out, nothing particularly good is going to happen. May I site the war in Iraq as a case in point? I'd like to suggest that President Bush might not have been so blindly certain a pre-emptive invasion of Iraq was the will of the people if the people had not already put on the bandannas and the colored shoe laces, and rolled up one pant leg. We fell into a flag frenzy. Which turned into a war. But I have to admit that the flag looks awfully good when Barack Obama stands in front of it and says WE are the United States of America. It looks beautiful in the hands of young Americans who believe in their contributions to making this land their land. It looks more and more like a symbol of hope and freedom to me than it does a double dog dare. And so, as I sit here at 3 AM, unable to sleep...anxious as a kid at Christmas over today's inauguration of the 44th president of the United States...I am reconsidering the flag. I am, after all, an American. A mighty proud one, too. Watch the video of America's Song, if you haven't seen it. Enjoy the glory of Old Glory. And if you haven't seen Michael Franti's tribute, take a look here. Crank up the volume. Dance. Happy Inauguration Day! And, peace.

3 comments:

Joseph Phelps said...

I've been thinking the same thing lately about the flag.... only thing that makes me hesitant is that the next time we march into some country to show how we kick ass I'll want to take it down.... but come to think of it, perhaps that's ok too.

I've not been as excited about something in a loooooong time. May God protect and guide our new President.

jop

Anonymous said...

Where does our allegiance lie? Is it to a party? To a man? I hope not. To a nation defined by geographic borders. Please no. To a dream? Yes. To the ideal? Yes. To Freedom? To justice? Yes. If that is what you mean by "...the American Way."... YES.

When Lincoln debated Douglas,. Douglas said the accommodation of Slavery by the Founders was an endorsement of Slavery. Lincoln said they placed the dream of achieving Liberty and Justice for All above curing a short term evil. Granted that was little comfort to those under the whip...but how right he was. People do not change overnight. They change slowly...very slowly. And today we took one more step...but the war is not won. The battles are not over. Justice does not yet roll down the mountains like water...but today the slope is in our favor. Today we can see through the distant mists into the verdant valley of Justice. Today we can see the possibility of a future that lies at the end of a new vector. May God help us to be patient, enduring and persistent. May God stand with us...no...may we stand with God striving for Justice and through Justice, Peace.

Amen.

- David Chapman

Mama de la Paz said...

Amen.