This "holiday" is supposed to be a remembrance of the Americans who died in combat. Most, in our history, had no choice.
They were 19, 20, 21 ... Consider what we expect of people that age now. (Not much.)
Many who returned became our fathers and grandfathers, and it's worth remembering what they suffered, too -- watching people they'd become extraordinarily close to die in an instant; killing people themselves...
So who are we now, as a nation? What did they fight and die for -- the United Multinational Corporations of America? The Global Shareholders of the Worldwide Reserve? A Wholly Owned Subsidiary of MONEY?
You might be with me so far, but here's where I get all socialist nationalist radical.
I believe America needs:
1. So-called "indoctrination rituals" like the Pledge of Allegiance and patriotic songs in every school, every day; plus a big deal pageant on "Flag Day" to remember what that symbol stands for. (Does that strike a dissonant chord?)
In any country, the flag and national anthem are symbols of unity. The more the GOP/multinational interests are intent on dividing us, the more it matters that we stand as ONE people, ONE country, with ONE flag, representing liberty and justice for all. (They hate that.)
2. Serious, comprehensive, respectful recognition of the labor that built America. Invoking "Our Founding Fathers" has become a catch-all cliché for the infallible, perfect design of America -- skipping over the people native to the continent who were doing just fine, thank you very much; and worse, ignoring the blood, sweat and tears of captured, enslaved Africans. There is a reason their communities are impoverished, and it's not because they're "lazy." Hate food stamps? Join the fight to make 40 hours a week = a living wage.
3. Conscription. Yes, it means a requirement to make some sacrifice for your country, serving a duty bigger than any one individual. It means having some skin in the game, no matter what your socioeconomic circumstances thanks to Mom and Dad. It means serving in the military or serving seniors or veterans or children or cancer patients or just picking up trash alongside people you'd never have met otherwise. It means having a small sense of the "entitlement" being American means -- a little perspective. A little gratitude. A little acknowledgement that there are no Fairies granting our luxuries.
For all those who went into battle, willing and not, from sheer sense of "duty"... these are small sacrifices.
Monday - President Obama gave a great "liberal" inauguration speech, freaking out the punditry.
Wednesday - Secretary of State Clinton took the Republicans in Congress to school, embarrassing them.
Thursday - John Kerry spoke at his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State, smacking down as necessary.
(Friday - A snow day in Maryland, finally!)
Yeah, I know there've been some downers too -- filibuster brick wall, new ways for GOP to steal elections, decision making Congressional "In/Out" gestures block appointments. But it's also worth enjoying moments like those we had this week, and remembering them.