It was a moment, only a moment on June 14, 2013 when Grant Park had it’s delayed opening that I thought about patriotism.
The drum roll came. People began to shuffle about me to stand up. Some needed a walker, others stood on their own easily. The ever wonderful Grant Park Orchestra began to play The Star Spangled Banner.
In a flash, I made a decision. I would not stand up.
Good question. One I began afterwards to query of myself. What had cause my snap decision to break with tradition and not follow the crowd.
To begin with, I had to wonder. What was this knee jerk reaction that we the people are expected to jump to our feet at group gatherings when we hear a song that celebrates a piece of cloth that survived a battle in a war two centuries ago? To me it symbolized yet another tribute to the nobility of war that I do not celebrate. War is not noble. It is deadly and horrific. Just ask those who were on the ground and in it.
Think that is unpatriotic? I don’t believe patriotism is tearing up for a 3-minute song; patriotism is working to be apprised of the nation’s issues, participating in the democracy including in the government and voting in every single election no matter how small.
How many times have I been alone at the polls with a group of bored by the dearth of voters. When so many of the people don’t bother to vote in a representative democracy, the democracy is broken. For this reason I have spent my adult life struggling to vote, even during the 20 years I was abroad when voting wasn’t a spur of the moment act, but a conscientious act that took months of planning to achieve.
Also I’m admittedly anti-military. I believe the land of my birth spends way too much on the Military (and it’s first cousin Defense); money that would be better invested in our people’s education and the country’s infrastructure. Despite being in school in San Antonio, Texas during the height of the Vietnam War with its four jammed military bases , I refused to date any man in a uniform. They made and make me nervous. I did volunteer at the time to visit a burn unit at Christmas. Everything I ever needed to know about war I learned in that ward. The smells haunt me to this day.
And what is this nonsense about thanking people in the military for their “service”? Did you thank the wait staff last night at Olive Garden for their service? Or the cop who gave you a parking ticket by Soldier Field for his service? Why not? Oh yeah, because they’re just doing their jobs–just like the military. It’s a job. It is not a pro-bono service.
Whether you think me disrespectful or principled, at least I’m not sheepishly following the crowd. I’d rather be damned for thinking for myself, than damned for following lambs to the slaughter of the war du jour–in Syria. Think it won’t happen. Please, prove me wrong.
But above all–do that. Think.
Like the young woman who questioned her country hosting the World Cup AND the Olympics (that Chicago lost); think.
Ordering red, white & blue pancakes is not patriotic.
Neither is wearing the American flag on your butt, or other body parts.
Nor is using taxpayer military aircraft for razzle dazzle air shows.
Freedom is freedom from the once upon a time King’s militarism that could take possession of your home; freedom is not a celebration of militarism.
So celebrate with a picnic. Enjoy that hot dog (just watch kids eating them and suffocating.) Have a beer or seven, why not. Just don’t drink and drive either a car or a bicycle. Be free, and think.