Archive for July 4th, 2013

Fourth of July Parade of ScoutsAnother Fourth of July.

Parades.  Picnics. Fireworks. Red, white and blue.  That’s the shorthand version of this day.  The actual meaning of this day is much harder to capture, probably more so for Americans than for those from other countries who view us from a distance.  I think we sometimes lose sight of the idea and ideal of America in our day to day struggle to maintain our own lives.  But even that struggle is symptomatic of the basis of our nation, reminding us that anything worth preserving requires work and maintenance.

For me,  America is not a static ideal, a credo written in granite that will always be there.  It is vaporous and ever changing, like a dense fog.  But it is an inviting fog, one that is warm on the skin and invites you in with hazy promises of possibility.  And maybe all America is– possibility.

Maybe it is the sheer potential of a better and safer life, the possibility of remaking one’s self, that defines our ideal America.  We are at our best when we are open and inviting,  offering our possibility and empathy to all .  We are a long way from our ideal when we close our doors and try to capture the vapor  that is  America all for ourselves.  It is not ours to hold– we are simply caretakers of an ideal, one that brought most of our ancestors here.

Maybe this doesn’t make any sense.  Since it is such a hazy ideal, we all see it in different ways.  This is just how I see it.

Here’s a video of the song America from Simon and Garfunkel, as performed by David Bowie during the Concert For New York City in the aftermath of 9/11.  This is not a flag waving , chest thumping anthem but it speaks as much to the ideal of  the American ideal in that simple chorus — all gone to look for America— as the very best Sousa march.

Have a great Fourth!

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