Today, it’s another Independence Day. I’ll bring my flag to the fireworks in my town tonight and wave it. I’ll stand for the presentation of the colors and our national anthem.
I’m a proud, loyal American. Of course I love my country; I was born here and I live here. But I’ve been more and more disturbed of late by the militarism and now outright jingoism that has spread almost everywhere, not only amongst my conservative friends, but on Facebook, public officials and everywhere.
A visitor to America can be forgiven for thinking that not only do we have three national anthems, but our veterans have three holidays: Veteran’s Day (the original Armistice Day, “the 11th hour of the 11th day in the 11th month…”), Memorial Day and now Independence Day.
I know many conservatives who say “Freedom is not Free”. Of those, I can count on one hand those that have actually served their country in uniform. A few of those have actually “seen the elephant” (they were in or witnessed combat) and one of those, a dear colleague, was a former prisoner of war.
Those that saw the elephant don’t talk a lot about their experiences; I don’t pry. They also don’t make a great deal about their service.
The 4th of July has become an opportunity for the jingoists to be loud about the flag and the military. Freedom is not Free. Love it or Leave it. If You Don’t Like It, Move.
(The “right to leave” becomes in short order, the duty to leave or the obligation to leave. That has worked out well in history.)
I am a fifty-year old guy with multiple disabilities, a proud and loyal American who nevertheless never could have served. I don’t hate our soldiers, how could I? But I have come to hate the insinuation that perhaps because I have not served, I am less of a citizen. And I should give my due and my vote to those who have served.
If it were really a matter of supporting our troops, Democrats and Republicans would be fighting each other over who could make the largest appropriations to the VA and our soldiers’ medical needs. They would fight to see who could help the personnel budget more, and they would be fighting mad that there are troops needing food stamps.
But instead, our soldiers are great props upon pedestals that we make for them today. So many of my Facebook friends would like a military dictatorship in America; the fantasies of such are all over the net. If one thinks I hate our soldiers now, just wait until they get mixed up into politics. Especially local politics. Believe you me, the wingnuts would love the idea of military government until the day they have to live under it.
I’m hoping for a future where I can love my country without having to salute for it.