Taking Back Old Glory on the Fourth of July

Happy Birthday, America!!

As the sun rose this morning, I thought about how divided our nation is and how some will celebrate today with a nationalistic fervor disguised as patriotism, some will celebrate with true patriotism, some will see nothing to celebrate and choose to sit this one out, and some will even celebrate without thought as to why they are celebrating, just another long weekend in the summer.  And frankly, that is their right as Americans to believe and express themselves freely whether you or I agree with them or not.  Generations of young men and women have fought to preserve those freedoms.

As for me, I am observing the Fourth of July by letting you know I am taking back the flag.  That’s right, Old Glory, she is mine just as much as she is yours.  But, I am getting ahead of myself.

All my life, I have been “accused” of wearing my heart on my sleeve.  I was fortunate to grow up in a solid blue state.  Growing up in a Massachusetts family as the granddaughter and daughter of mill workers and construction workers, I learned that in my American family we were proud union members, proud Kennedy Democrats and even prouder Americans.

At an early age, I developed a keen interest in politics and my viewpoints have always leaned left.  While baseball is our national sport and generations of my family myself included have been proud members of Red Sox Nation, I have also enjoyed the other state sport of Massachusetts – politics.  In the Commonwealth, we are known for taking our politics seriously.  But here’s the thing at the end of each campaign season, like ballplayers on the softball or baseball diamond lining up to say, “Good game, good game, good game,” we shake hands and move on after congratulating our opponents on either their victory or a well fought campaign.

In my solid blue state, we often elect Republican governors; some whom I find to be better than others and some of whom I have developed a new-found respect for in the last twelve months – yes, I am talking about you Mitt Romney.   The thing is in my blue state, I don’t ever recall an attitude that those who lean towards the right, that rare breed known as Massachusetts Republicans, are somehow less American than Massachusetts Democrats.  They simply have different viewpoints than the Democrats. To suggest otherwise would be like claiming that Yankees fans are not baseball fans …utterly ridiculous.

Yet some time during the last decade or two, voicing a traditionally liberal viewpoint in our nation has become equated with being un-American.   Slowly it appears our politics have shifted to fear based politics.  In our post 9/11 world expressing liberal viewpoints has been routinely labeled anti-American.  I’m a libtard or a snowflake if I express viewpoints like Black Lives Matter, women should be in control of their own reproductive choices, concern over gun violence or disdain for the current administration (when that administration is Republican that is).  Having different political view points and ideology does not make any one of us less American than the other.  Even our Founding Fathers had differences of opinion.

The ultra-right wing of the Republican party and the neo-Nazis, I mean alt-right, that the current occupant of the Oval Office chooses to surround himself with do not have a monopoly on Americanism and patriotism.  And sadly, they alone are not to blame. We Democrats, in our silence, are as complicit, in this anti-American labeling as Ivanka Trump is to the failures and shortcomings of the current administration and her father’s cyber bullying of the press and anyone whom he perceives as a threat to his delusions of grandeur.

As clearly as I remember the discussions about politics and the unions my family belonged to, I also remember the patriotism and pride in being American expressed by the generations before me whether it be my Italian immigrant great grandmother, my first-generation Italian-American grandmother (I believe some of you today would call her an anchor baby) or my second-generation Irish-American grandfather, who took great pride in being American and often teased my grandmother about how much further back his family’s roots were in America.  My proud to be American family, who believed in strong unions, Medicare, social security, women’s rights and the obligation America had to help working class Americans and routinely voted Democrat up and down the ticket were no less proud Americans than their Republican counterparts.

And neither is their granddaughter or her contemporary liberal, progressive Democrats.

As children we waved and saluted the same American Flag as you, sang the national anthem like you, and lined up for Memorial Day and Flag Day celebrations at school as we proudly sang the patriotic songs our teachers taught us for the occasion.  I still remember how proud I was to learn the words of the Marines Hymn … progressing from I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy in the first grade to the Marines Hymn by fifth grade.

Additionally, our families are important to us as yours are to you.  We even care about the well-being of our neighbors’ families – whether they can trace their American roots back to before the American Revolution, are descendants of immigrants, or are immigrants or refugees themselves.  How’s that for family values?

Yet somehow over the last several decades, we have allowed the far “Christian” right to label us as lacking family values, being unpatriotic and un-American simply because we have different political opinions.  We let you turn liberal and Democrat into bad words that ignite the wrath of your fanatical base.

So, on this Fourth of July, I want you to know enough is enough.  I and hopefully millions of my fellow Democrats will no longer be complicit in our silence.  We are taking back the flag and patriotism.  Old Glory is no longer yours alone.  The truth is that star-spangled banner never was just yours.

 

3 thoughts on “Taking Back Old Glory on the Fourth of July

  1. You have a well written article expressing your political stand. I respect it. But why am I intimidated to confess to you that I am what you would call a “far right Christian?” Why am I timid to confess that I voted for President Trump? Why do I fear your wrath to say I would do it again today? You really have nothing to fear from me, why do I fear you? I will walk beside you while you carry the flag if you will let me. I won’t call you names or burn your street, promise. I also rue the fact that the pledge, patriotic songs, and pride in the flag are not taught in public schools. I really have been blaming the Democrats for that. Sounds like I have wronged you on that count. You didn’t do it, I didn’t do it. Who did it? They are the ones we want out of power.

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    • Oneta, thank you for reading and commenting on my blog post. I truly appreciate your comments. I know it is incredibly intimidating to admit to someone with a viewpoint clearly the opposite of yours how you voted. So, thank you. I respect your right to vote how you choose – it is one of our cherished American rights. Also, I want to thank you for your respectfulness. I’m sure you can imagine that a post like this could be met with disrespect … not from you but from others.

      I will admit I don’t understand how or why someone voted and would still vote for Trump. I wrote about that here (https://fromthestickstothebricksandbackagain.com/2017/01/23/an-open-letter-to-my-friends-on-and-off-facebook) if you are interested. I get what his appeal was in the first place to some very well meaning Americans – Washington outsider, successful businessman. Honestly, I never would have voted for him and if I had been considering him and voting Republican when he mocked Senator John McCain, a Veteran and former POW who’s political views are largely different than mine, that would have made me align with another of the 17 Republican candidates. In my eyes, his behaviors have just gotten worse from there. I don’t believe all his supporters are racists, misogynists or xenophobic but I believe he and his inner circle are and I believe they are dangerous.

      As for being Christian, many liberals are practicing Christians and I don’t believe all conservative Christians are far right. If I had to label myself religiously, I would tell you I am a lapsed Catholic and accidental Baptist (yes there is a story there) who believes in everyone’s right to practice their faith without forcing it upon others be that at their doorstep or through legislation. As you probably have figured out by now, I have much to say on political matters; much more than one post or comment can contain. Again thank you for your comment and if you are ever on my street, I would invite you in and we could wave our flags and talk about what we think about America over tea or lemonade.
       

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  2. Thanks, Lynne, for your kind response. Well, I also am an “accidental Baptist” after years in Pentecostal circles. And I am a decided Republican after years in the Democratic circles. I used to be NEA big time working for Democratic candidates in my state (Okla. – just as red as you are blue!). One dared not be anything else in my teaching days. I blame public education, myself included, for a lot of America’s problems. For one, the ability to get by without exerting oneself. The “just do your best” and you will get an A – my attitude now is “I’m the teacher, you are the learner, so learn.” My students could have learned so much more if I had not swallowed a lot of “don’t hurt their little egos” philosophy. Oh, Lynne, we have failed our kids for a generation or two, maybe even three. Hey, I think I find you very east to talk to. This might go on too long. 😀

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