Memorial Day: Seeing Patriotism

Stolen from Adbusters
Stolen from Adbusters

“For most Americans the flag stirs elements of sentimentality and reverence. It is celebrated as a symbol of freedom and democracy, the triumph of justice over injustice; good over evil. But symbols of noble ideals vanish into the mist when one critically examines the historical evidence. Millions of innocent people have died under the flag, including those who have carried it into battle in the belief that they were fighting for something nobler than corporate profits (see USMC General Smedley Butler’s 1933 essay “War is a Racket).”’ – Charles Sullivan, 2006


I drifted easily into consciousness this morning, a smile playing upon my faded lips as I stretched slowly, lazily, like a cat savoring the remnants of a fragile dream.  I rolled to my right side automatically reaching for my Handyman’s sturdy frame and warm skin, my feathery eyelids still shading my gaze from the sunlight filtering through the skylight above me.  I felt only the smooth unmade surface of my purple bedspread and recollected that I had fallen asleep the previous night glowing in an endorphin induced haze unwilling to relinquish my Handyman’s embrace long enough to turn back the bed sheets.  The aroma of freshly brewed coffee greeted my awakening senses along with a faint rustling in the corner of the room.  I lifted my moist eyelids and was greeted by the sight of my Handyman sitting in his high backed rocking chair sipping his coffee, long hair swirling about his face in cascades of color… silver, blond, brown, red.  I saw that he had placed a mug for me on the small table that sits between our two bedroom chairs and I murmured a morning greeting of gratitude calling him my Sweetness…

That was hours ago.  How, the Reader may wonder, could this idyllic scene launch a day that includes The Shopping Hag posting a stolen picture of a desecrated American flag?  The short answer: It’s Memorial Day weekend and Blind Patriotism makes the list of top ten topics guaranteed to annoy even a Happy Hag. The morning news was full of it.

Make no mistake, I have no particular qualms regarding blindness in and of itself, in either its literal or figurative form.  In fact, I appreciate the reality that my Sweetness’s foggy vision and his susceptibility to the old adage, “Love is blind,” probably contribute to his ability to be happy with an old hag like me.   Likewise, I have no problem supporting the idea of Patriotism in and of itself, assuming that it isn’t coerced.  In fact, I consider myself a patriot.  I love my country so much that I decided to remain here even after Donald Trump was elected… though I admit that I did take the time to learn, “O Canada,” just in case.  It is the combination of blindness and patriotism that rankles my nerves.  For as Mark Twain once said, “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”

In conclusion, I ask that as you go about your Memorial Day business, whether it be traveling, planning a barbecue, heading off to a parade… that you not only consider the meaning of the holiday beyond the simple platitude, “To honor those who fought for our freedom,” but that you also consider the implications of this statement and how best to serve it.  Maybe, like me, you would like to exercise your right to free speech… Get your protest flags here.  Maybe you would like to make a donation to a worthy cause.  Maybe you will decide to act in accordance with a personal ideal such as shopping locally.  Maybe you just want to drink a beer and get on with the party, and that’s fine, too… As long as your eyes are open.

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