My Kids and My Country
I had a very interesting Encounter with Art yesterday, in a place I wasn’t expecting it. Some of you will recall my definition of art, that being some form of expression that makes me think of things in a new way.
Brendon’s third-grade class has been learning a bunch of patriotic songs recently, in preparation for an evening performance at a special “Servicemen’s Appreciation Night”. Actually, third graders from all the classes in both Eagle Mountain schools were participating.
Well, last night was the great evening of the performance. I rushed home from work to pick up the boys and take them to the town amphitheater. We got there, actually, with plenty of time, so Jake and I got our seats on the sloping lawn in front of the stage, while Brendon got ready with his classmates.
The show went off as planned, and the kids sang and did their hand motion choreography quite well. The songs were good, but pretty much forgettable. But at one point, the time came to present the colors, and a marine color guard marched out. Then the kids sang the national anthem, and signed it as they were singing it. And I actually teared up. It really got to me, hearing all those kids singing the song. It was amazing. I spent the rest of the program contemplating my own patriotism.
See, the right wing in the country has tried really hard to commandeer patriotism for a lot of years now, but especially as it relates to the Iraq war. They’ve tried to posture it so that if you don’t support the war, you’re supporting the enemy, and are, therefore, un-American.
But that’s not what American freedom stands for. That’s not what the flag stands for. I pledge my allegiance to it so that I CAN dissent from my government if I feel its choices are wrong. And I can use my most patriotic and American of all my rights to voice that opinion in many forms: spoken, written, sung, and most important of all, in my vote.
I do admire our soldiers for being willing to give such a sacrifice for what they believe is right. Just like I admire my own pioneer ancestors who left Nauvoo and risked their lives crossing the plains for what the believed was right. And those who have served and/or died in many of the other conflicts and struggles.
For that, I am very grateful.