Wednesday, July 27, 2005

You’re a Grand Old Flag

I was looking at a picture of our flag being burned and trampled on. The words of an old patriotic tune came into my mind. I hadn’t heard this one in quite a while, maybe because it’s a little too patriotic and takes for granted that everyone who lives here in the United States loves and appreciates what that flag stands for.

You’re a grand old flag
You’re a high flying flag
And forever in piece may you wave.
You’re the emblem of
The land I love
The home of the free and the brave

Ev’ry heart beats true
‘neath the Red, White and Blue
Where there’s never a boast of brag.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
Keep your eye on the grand old flag.

Music and lyrics by George M. Cohan The complete version along with a very cheesy sound byte can be found via the link provided in the title bar.

I had to think back to the last time I heard that tune; it was when I watched a biographical movie about George M. Cohan that had James Cagney in the lead role. We used to sing this in grammar school; an assembly room full of children being taught to be excited about our heritage, the flag being a symbol that helped us focus on those thoughts. George M. Cohan was awarded the highest medal our country gives to honor him for his patriotic spirit; receiving it at the white house from Franklin D. Roosevelt.

I remember another symbol of our country from a short anti-pollution infomercial. There was a picture of an aged Indian chief. In the background was a smoke stack pouring plumes of toxic waste into the sky. The camera zoomed in to show a single tear that formed in the corner of the old chief’s eye and trickled down his cheek as he wept for the past and what has taken its place.

As I looked once more at the image of our flag being desecrated a tear form in the corner of my eye. I brushed it away and thought about those who live in my country, whether or not they are citizens or guests, and the unabashed disgust that some of them have for our great nation.

Maybe I’ll go down to the movie store and find a copy of that movie, “Yankee Doodle Dandy”, take it home and play it for my kids. I’m not sure they would enjoy it now that they are all grown up and hooked on these new movies with all the violence and fancy special effects. The only special effects I can remember from Yankee Doodle Dandy were stage props being moved around to simulate a boat leaving shore, a horse race scene and a train pulling away from a station. There were no blue or green screen shots with overlay footage to trick our minds into the illusion of space travel or phenomenal explosions with bodies being ripped asunder.

When the movie was coming to an end, the parade marching down the street and George M. Cohan pondering the life he’d led and the music he’d written, I could feel the urge to stand up and salute the flag, be a better citizen and in general, felt pride in my country’s heritage. There’s that tear forming again.

I want to reach out and shake those idiots, bring them to their senses, remind them of how good we have it here and how much better it could be if only… if only. Damn my emotions and the tears that make it difficult to see the words as I write them. Is there no way to get through to this next generation, to have them appreciate and applaud, have goose bumps and a lump form in their throats when they hear a patriotic tune or look upon our flag?

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