Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Independence Day

I would like to take the flag back; to take it away from the progressives, take it away from the conservatives; take it away from the television news anchors and commentators; take it away from the makers of magnets for automobile exteriors, take it away from Wal-Mart and Target.

I would like to take it away and let Marvin Hoffman give it back, in words from his 1996 memoir "Chasing Hellhounds," which describes the evolution of a teacher bouncing between one-room schoolhouses and inner-city jungles. He writes from a small town in New England:

"We tried to remember to run the flag up the flagpole every morning, and on the days we forgot, someone from the VFW called to remind us. This was a community that took its patriotism seriously. Although Memorial Day was a school holiday, every teacher and almost every student assembled on the school porch to be issued an American flag mounted on a thin dowel, retrieved from basement storage. Somehow, here, close to the source of the original impulse, patriotism felt more like an affirmation, a giving of thanks, than a mean-spirited nose thumbing at a threatening outside world."

We can't forget the past and we can't ignore the present, but I think Hoffman reminds us of another side of things that can too easily slip away.

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