Fred, Dwight and Sue

The first flag to which I pledged allegiance was one like that on the left; 48 stars. I still have one from my uncle who died in the 50’s.  I have his army hat, too. I found it while cleaning out his sister’s house some years ago. Our Pledge  back then had one less word than today. Two extra stars, one extra word. Progress.

Our pennies had wheat shafts on the reverse and some were ‘white.’ Magnetic too. Many bore the head of an Indian. Nickles had the image of buffaloes; quarters eagles. Dollar bills had a blue stamp rather than green.Two dollar bills were fairly common as were 50-cent-pieces and silver dollars. Today, most of those coins are in the hands of collectors and dealers. Time marches on.

Today is my 69th Independent’s Day. Blam! BOOM! Zip-Pop!  Many of my neighbors are pyromaniacs; I was too as a kid. I must have lit a thousand fire crackers in my time and some of them were quite dangerous.  Silver salutes, cherry bombs and M-80’s could have blown off any of my fingers and surely contributed to my loss of hearing today. For the past several nights, my neighbors and I found sound sleep difficult to acquire as ‘the folks’ were busy blasting the warm night air- ostensibly to celebrate our 235th anniversary. Surely tonight will be a repeat performance as will July 5, 6 and 7.

Wow!  We love our independence. Oddly, today Great Britain is our bosom buddy, an ally in our never-ending series of foreign excursions. and foreign occupations. The irony of that is amazing. “He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature. ” The ‘he’ was King George, not President George W. Bush. “For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us.”

No doubt in many quarters of this land of ours people will be using the phrase, “Protecting our freedoms.” That will be enough to justify the inception of and continuation of foreign invasions of other people’s land. Aggression with any candy-coating is still aggression. Protecting our freedoms. Powerful and simplistic. It flows easily off of the tongues of the dolts who have been so easily brainwashed. That line of  Samuel Johnson by biographer James Boswell comes to mind: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Whatever Johnson meant is unclear, yet Patriotic Fervor throughout the ages has brought an early death to many citizens of many lands.

Two hundred thirty-five years is a long time ago, more than twice the life of centenarians. Quite a lot of candles on the cake. Lots of bombs bursting in air. And the rockets’ red glare. Bombs, beer, brats and bravado. Lots of bravado. And beer. Perhaps the two are in a symbiotic relationship.

The Revolutionary War veterans must have felt a deep sense of pride and satisfaction upon returning home. There is nothing quite as satisfying as the taste of victory and accomplishment. No doubt crowds roared as the Concord Minutemen marched past. Did my uncle feel the same after returning from Europe? Or my older cousin from Korea? What about my classmate upon returning home from Vietnam? What about those courageous yet ill-informed young men who enlisted after 9-11? Or the ones sent to Iraq to hunt for the WMD’s? The ones still there in both theaters?

When was our last worthy war, if there is such a category? What price has our nation paid for Patriotic Fervor? Was it worth the blood, sweat, tears and treasure? As I stand watching a 4th of July parade, I am often saddened when a group of veterans march past. The WWII vets are often driven in cars and the Korean Vets mostly hobble past. Many Vietnam Vets are absent. I did see a few young  ‘Enduring Freedom’  veterans smartly step past to the clapping of the bystanders. These men and the Iraq Vets will be marching in subsequent parades for another half-century, long after the WWII, Korean and Vietnam veterans are in their graves.

Will these be the last of the troops marching in Independence Day parades?

CONCORD HYMN

July 4, 1837

           

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept,
Alike the Conqueror silent sleeps,
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone,
That memory may their deed redeem,
When like our sires our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, or leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and Thee.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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15 thoughts on “Fred, Dwight and Sue

  1. And people forget that the War for American Independence was the First Civil War as well.

    How would this day be different if the Tories had won possibly because the Alliance with the French made the North Americans realise that maybe Benedict Arnold was correct in his opinions. Or some other reason. After all the British did win most of the Battles in that war, they just lost the war.

    1. Now, now, Laci…yes the British did win a lot of the battles, but strategically, Washington did have the tactics and the stamina and the allies to fight a successful guerilla campagne. The British effort was hampered as well at home…it was almost like the opposition to the War In Vietnam here in the 60’s. The Americans had a lot of support with the British Mercantile and Commercial concerns.
      One part of my mothers family was staunch Tories…they had to leave the Chesapeake Bay region and go to Canada…that was the Harts…Hartweilers at the time. I am a Hartweiler, but also a Taney…..Civil Wars are always so complicated.

  2. Hey, M_R, lets not forgot that good old fifty cent piece, you know, the half dollar.

  3. You know, M_R, it has always bothered me that the 4th becomes taken
    up with militarism. Isn’t Memorial Day and Veterans Day enough of
    a salute to the congressional-military-industrial complex? Why does it
    have to include the 4th too? The 4th, in my opinion, ought to be
    clebrated for or rights and freedoms, our virtues as a country, and all our
    “inalienable rights”.We don’t need to wrap the military around everything,
    do we?

    1. UTF, I like to think of Independence Day as the birth of our nation, after the colonial gestation, so to speak.

      I personally object to the plural; we have freedom, and we have liberty, not libeties.

      The Declaration of Independence was philosophical, political, economic, and also military. There is no good justification for ignoring any aspect of it in aid of political ideology or political correctness.

      Hell, I’d just be happy if we were free for a little while from ignorant right wing nuts and their modo bizarro revisionist history. Although some of the fringies, like our very own bat-shit crazy MN Congresswoman Bachmann DO provide a nearly inexhaustible supply of material for humor.

      This pastiche by Jimmy Kimmel was a better celebration, imho, than the fireworks yesterday. I laughed out loud until it hurt.

  4. Hello Muddy and Laci,
    I am passing this on as an FYI.

    I just came home from a visit to my son-in-law’s mother’s place on Kent Island. It is a weekend home on the Chesapeake Bay just a little past the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on the Eastern Shore side of Maryland.

    My son-in-law’s youngest brother, a political science major, was interning at his father’s old law firm (their dad passed away about 6 years now but the law partners help the boys out as they grow up going for their law degrees) but starting tomorrow Thursday, July 5, will be working for Congressman and Speaker of the House John Boehner for the rest of the summer session.

    He is brought on to work on the budget bill and I will have first hand information of what really goes down.

    The conservative blowhards on Muddy’s site will spout the programmed responses from Fox and talk radio repeating only what they are told on this slanted view. (It is always Obama’s fault you know….no matter the topic)

    I will be responding with direct information on what really goes down.

    Let’s see how much the two differ in the coming weeks.

  5. Hello Uptheflag,
    Very well stated that the 4th ought to be celebrated for our Rights and Freedoms, Our Virtues as a country. I like your mind set and thought process to notice how it has just
    morphed into just another congressional-military-industrial complex celebration.

    It really should be a moment of introspection to contemplate from whence we came.

  6. To me, EOK, the beginning of the Declaration’s second paragraph is the most
    significant, namely, “we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are
    created equal…..”

    That has been part of the American Spirit, SELF-EVIDENT and EQUAL.

    Unfortunately now, we are slipping into a have and have not nation. In the next
    few days I expect President Obama to increase that gulf with his compromises
    to the GOP. As they say our West, Obama will not stand hitched…

  7. Hello Uptheflag,
    I have been telling my wife the exact same words of since the late 1990’s, “we are slipping into a have and have not nation.”

    I am seeing the middle class disappear slowly at first but more quickly in the last few years. It reminds me of what I saw first hand during my tour of duty in South America in the early to mid 1970’s.

  8. Yes, EOK, and the government statistics prove it. Yet, this Obama
    Admininistration continues to put the burden on the poor, the working
    middleclass, and the seniors.

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