Saturday, July 07, 2018

"This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this America..." On the Fourth

We find ourselves in an incredibly divided time. There are some who believe that the President's attitude of upending government was long over due. Those folks tend to rally behind him no matter what he does, and are supported by a news network which has done a great job of creating a somewhat false narrative of what went on the last couple of decades. Then there are some who long for the days of a more reasoned approach to government, eschewing the hateful and divisive comments which emanate from the higher seats of that government. About the flag, we can't even come to agreement. The symbolism of the flag has been held hostage, long used by fringe groups to explain that they are the true patriots, and that anyone with a differing opinion is merely a no-knowing Commie rat. Things are actually a little more complicated than that. But on the Fourth of July it remains a time to take stock of us, the country, and the flag. This flag was a large (40x60' approx.) one, carried by young ROTC cadets during the Inauguration of George W BUSH, in January of 2001. It was, as we say, one of those "pre-9/11" events, a phrase which describes the days before we even had such a thing as Dept. of Homeland Security - essentially simpler days when even people of differing points of view could still be civil about it. There doesn't seem to be much civility left. From the President on down (and don't even get started on FB comments!) you hear that President Obama was a traitor who should be in jail. There is perhaps a little bit of irony that one of the most notable guys to use the phrase about Hillary ... "Lock her up..." will be one of the first to actually go to jail.
But it doesn't really get very far in solving any of the problems that we all face. That morning in DC Southwest where the Inaugural Parade was forming up, I happened to find myself mixing with the flag-carrying cadets (such a thing probably won't happen in the "post-9/11 world..." ) and once they started to march the route up Pennsylvania Avenue, in effort find protection from the incessant and chilling rain, I just hopped under the flag, and started walking with it. Once underneath, I had a free ride all the way to the White House. The pictures were, that day, definitely UNDER the flag, not outside it. The shapes, the silouettes, the fact that you couldn't stop moving till 19th street. It was "a trip." As we turned the corner onto 15th street, next to Treasury, I briefly popped out from under the flag and startled my friend Arthur Grace who was covering the parade from that corner. Then I dodged back under my safe spot, and walked the rest of the way, looking for flag moments, albeit subterranean ones. Our flag has been through a lot in 240+ years. I only hope it has enough strength to keep on keepin' on, and somehow move this country on to a phase where we don't hate each other with such vitriol. It's not an obvious fix. It needs help, dedication, and some honest understanding.

We're just sayin'... David