It sounds so corny when I say it out loud, quite honestly. “I love the United States of America.” The reflection in the mirror I half-expect to see as I walk past as I speak these words is my rotund countenance draped in stars and stripes. That’s how silly it sounds to me to say it… at first.
Then, as I mull the phrase over in my head, I contemplate a few things that soften my attitude about this compilation of words.
First, I think about my Dad. (I always capitalize the word, “Dad,” when I refer to my father, whether it’s grammatically correct or not). My father fought in World War II. He was a decorated Pharmacist Mate. He served in both the Mediterranean and Asian theaters. He was a hero. Although he rarely spoke about his time in the Navy, I was always in awe that he fought the enemy and through his efforts, helped win the war. He fought for the freedoms that I have today. He, along with all the men and women who so valiantly served our country over the last two hundred-plus years, made a difference to us. I never forget that. I suppose that’s why, when I hear the National Anthem, I still get choked up. It happens every single time.
Second, I wonder where else on Earth I could walk down the street with the fearlessness I do. As a gay man, a Latino man, an older man, a man of lower-moderate socio-economic status, I am greeted warmly, loved openly, and respected for who I am, with all the diversity I embody. There are laws that protect me. I am, relatively speaking, safe.
Third, I can write to the President of the United States of America and say exactly what is on my mind. Because I have no desire to threaten anyone, I’m secure in the knowledge that my words count just as much as anyone else’s. It’s a sweet knowledge I carry inside my heart about my place here in the good ole U.S. of A.
I get angry, sometimes, at our legislators and our judges. I am often frustrated by our media services. The cost of things is abominable and the challenges to acquire health care for many is untenable. “Skinny people are too thin. Fat people are too fat.” Everyone has an opinion about everything.
We are, thankfully, able to express our opinions as freely as we belch. Unfortunately, some of our opinions are worth about the same thing. At least, we are able to send our thoughts out as easily as we throw a frisbee at a Fourth of July picnic.
We have had presidents, from Washington to Obama, that are nearly as diverse in thought and history as those of us in our neighborhoods. There were builders, deceivers, heroes and scoundrals, activitists and do-nothings. They were Americans.
Today, on this Fourth of July, 2009, I am not a hyphenate-American. I am simply, joyfully, and proudly an American.
So, as corny as it may sound, I will reiterate my feeling that I love the United States of America. God (or whomever you choose to believe in, if anyone) bless America!
As aggrieved as many people are for the loss of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, and Billy Mays, one can understand how the outpouring of sadness and sympathy can turn into a national near-obsession. That being said, one must also find the brake pedal for the intrusion into a celebrity’s private life, especially for the sake of the family. This level of feeding frenzy is reminiscent of vultures on a carcass.
As the national media has covered the death of Michael Jackson, every one of the channels has discussed his will, the custody of his children, the relationship he had with his father, and even the paternity and maternity of his children.
Has his family not one iota of permission to grieve over the loss of their son/brother/father in peace? Is it not enough that we have used Mr. Jackson as fodder for our discussions about his unusual behavior, questionable actions, and ever-changing appearance for the past forty years?
The man is dead. Dead. There is no more Michael Jackson in the assemblage of six billion people on the planet. Certainly his music lives on, as does his family; however, can we simply allow his passing to be handled respectfully and lovingly?
We are culture vultures. We scavange on every morsel of information as though it were our last meal. We tear apart every facet of a celebrity’s private life as though we had a right to it because we spent a few dollars on their albums. We are shameless as a people when it comes to our celebrities.
When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was Commander-in-chief, not one newspaper ever showed a photograph of him in his wheelchair. Not one outlet discussed his polio. Certainly, no one discussed in the newspaper or on the newsreel about the infidelities within his marriage. It was understood that President Roosevelt deserved his privacy and that this level of exposure would be detrimental to our society and standing in the world of the day.
We haven’t one ounce of that sense left. We’re like the fools who shoot guns in the air because we have them and we want to show our power. We don’t give a damn about where the bullets land.
Enough already. Enough!
The news media is making the news, not reporting the news. They have not got a clue as to what is appropriate any more. Between our government and our media, we are a shell of our previous selves.
What a tragic statement about who we’ve become – a bunch of Jerry Springer guest-wannabes who shout at the top of their lungs to make their point and battle on subjects they know nothing about.
Isn’t it time we go back to our trailer parks, have a cool one, do some honest self-reflection about who we’ve become and how we got here rather than dissecting the lives of people we’ve never, ever met?