By Richard Bleil
Once again, I am very late in starting this post. Even though it’s a post for the third, it’s already the fourth.
Already Independence Day.
I’m trying to think about what this means to me. To say it’s complicated is an understatement.
In school, I learned the Christopher Columbus discovered the “New World”. Eventually, I discovered that Vikings discovered the Americas about five hundred years earlier. The story I learned in school is that the Vikings’ discovery doesn’t really count because they never reported it. A millennia before the Vikings discovered America, the Native Americans were already hear. The story that I heard is that that doesn’t count because, well, for some bizarre reason, it just doesn’t.
Reading this, one might think that I’m not proud of America, but how could that be? This is my home. But being proud doesn’t mean ignoring past mistakes, and we’ve made plenty. Ours is a land of mistakes, as our forefathers knew it would be. This is why the Constitution was written to be flexible, which seems to be a civics lesson that many people have forgotten.
Today, many people are finding it difficult to be proud of this country. We seem to be in a period of repeating historical mistakes, and we are moving in a direction that seems excessively dangerous. For the first time, the current administration is planning a military parade for the Fourth of July. A year ago the president asked for such, but it was denied because of the excessive price to do so. The news was sprung on America rather suddenly a day or two ago, and it seems too late to cancel the plans now. It will cost millions upon millions of dollars, and seemed to have been planned in such a way so as not to raise opposition until it was too late to do anything about it. What strikes me as most dangerous is that this parade, from what we have been told to date, seems to be based on the military parades of dictators around the world.
Russia has long had military parades. They were intended to be intimidating, specifically to the US, in an effort to show off their strength. North Korea has followed suit, and I believe China has as well. When asked if the US would begin having military parades, Dwight D. Eisenhower said that to do so would make the US appear weak, as if we needed to flaunt military might. Indeed, the military parades oversees have been designed specifically to make it appear that the nations had more military might than they actually had. And yet, our current president is touting the military parade to be the greatest celebration America has seen.
Personally, I’ve seen the new millennium celebration. Before that, I saw the bicentennial celebration. I’ve seen the celebration when the wall came down, and frankly, I’ve seen some amazing military shows. I’ve proudly witnessed the Dayton Air Show, home of the Write Patterson Air Force Base which is command central for the Air Force. If you want to see an amazing air show, that’s where you want to be.
I won’t watch the parade tomorrow. The president seems to believe that the only thing America has to be proud of is our ability to destroy. I’m more interested in our ability to build, although frankly, it seems as though we are lacking in this area right now.
I’m proud of our heartland, and the states where farmers are suffering right now because of flooding, although we have walked away and, as a nation, standalone on climate accords because of the same pride that has caused global warming and the current flooding. I’m proud of the human spirit of this nation although right now we seem content to build walls and detention centers to separate desperate migrants fleeing death and war from their children in camps reminiscent of the disgust and anger we had against our enemies in the second World War. I’m proud of our can-do attitude, technology and ability to build an amazing infrastructure although at the moment we are ignoring our duties to do so in Puerto Rico where they are bracing for another storm while still trying to recover from the one that devastated them two years ago.
It should be clear from this post that I’m certainly not proud of the direction our country is currently moving, but I’m still proud of America, and proud to be an American. I guess the source of this pride is in the understanding that this direction won’t last forever. In another year, we will have the opportunity to vote out the mistake we voted into the white house at the last election, and I hope that we do so. And maybe, just maybe, we will be tired of the divisiveness tearing our nation apart and begin listening to one another again.