Sunday, February 24, 2008

Patriotism is personal

The talking pinheads at Fox News and the Swift Boat gang are all over Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama for a couple of his actions, or inactions, on the campaign trail. They're suggesting Obama is some sort of pinko commie because he no longer wears a flag lapel pin and once - once - failed to put his hand over his heart during the playing of the national anthem. They've also sunk their teeth into Michelle Obama's statement that for the first time in her adult life, she is proud of the country. Taking the last issue first, the Obamas offered the explanation that Michelle Obama was talking about the political arena and that she's proud because this is the first time in a long time that she sees Americans excited about changing their country. That's fine. It's more likely she just said something off the cuff on the campaign trail that she now wishes she hadn't said. The Obamas are running for the White House. I'm not, so I'm not afraid to say that I definitely am not as proud of my country as I was 30 years ago, when I was in the military. I served in peacetime, though a Panamanian soldier once pointed a rifle at me (His sister definitely told me she was 18. Kidding! I walked into what the soldier perceived as a restricted area.) As for the national anthem hubbub, people have many different ways of showing respect. Some people do put their hands over their hearts, but based on what I've seen at ball games - Why is that about the only place we play the anthem? - most people simply stand respectfully, which is what Obama was doing on the day in question. My maternal grandmother used to stand for the anthem when it was played on television, but that was the last time I saw that kind of devotion to the national song. It really comes down to what's in your heart, not whether you cover your heart. And that's pretty much how I feel about the flag lapel pins and the "patriotic" bumper stickers. Obama said he quit wearing the flag lapel pin as the nation moved toward the most recent war in Iraq because he felt it was a "substitute ... for real patriotism." Well said. What I really have a problem with is the "I Support the Troops" or "I Love America" bumper stickers on cars. The people who slap on these stickers are essentially saying, "Look at me! I love the country and the soldiers." Guess what, people? Pretty much all of us love the country, and pretty much all of us support the troops. Even the folks who think the Iraq war is a horrifying waste of lives and money don't wish our soldiers ill. They want them to come home safely. They just don't feel it's necessary to feed their own egos in the process by slapping a cheap bumper sticker on the back of an SUV.

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8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly. Wearing your patriotism or religion on your sleeve is fine. But I can't stand those who imply by not doing so, you are somehow less patriotic or less religious than those who do. Seeing the mess the "patriots" have gotten us into since 9/11, I'm almost inclined to put my hand over my eyes, not my heart, when they play the SSB.

February 24, 2008 at 1:17 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

Sorry...I think that Osama, er, Obama, not acknowledging the flag is inexcusable. At least play the game, man, whether you mean it or not. To disrespect the flag of the country you want to lead is inexcusable.

Now, as far as the insipid and insidious ribbons go, I have to say that if you think that buying a magnet at Wal Mart to portray your "patriotism" or "support" is a valid stance, you're dead wrong. Brant's right...whether you support the war or not, we all support the troops. Making yourself feel better by sticking something on your car doesn't make a bit of difference. And don't you dare feel superior to me because I choose not to make such a shallow proclamation as this.

February 24, 2008 at 7:12 PM  
Blogger Scott Beveridge said...

Well said Brant. We have much bigger problems on our plates.

February 25, 2008 at 12:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree but boy does it bother me when I hear announcers telling people to remove their hats and stand for the national anthem. Should most people already know that they should do that. I know we were taught that when I was young.

February 25, 2008 at 2:11 PM  
Blogger Amanda Gillooly said...

One of my best friends has this bumper sticker: "I support the Troops. Bring them home."

February 25, 2008 at 10:45 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

In response to the comment Anonymous made regarding most people should be aware to remove a hat during the anthem, a simple look at a few TV commercials will tell you that, sadly, yes, we have to tell people this. There is a commercial running now in Virginia that starts with an animated referee blowing a whistle and calling foul on three preteen kids for lying around the house on a nice day. Then it shows three NFL players showing the kids how to have fun outside. And then, and this is the part that kills me, one of the players tells kids to go online and find out how to have fun outside. Then he warns: But don't stay online too long. No one should have to be taught how to have fun outside, and worse, do online research to find out how.

We have commercials telling us that if we use drugs we set a bad example for our kids. Duh. Or we're told to talk to our children. Again...duh. People raising children now are just stupid, and that's all there is to it.

February 26, 2008 at 4:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In WWII and most other successful wars, patriotism was shown for morale purposes. As usual Brant, you fail to understand both the obvious and middle America.

February 26, 2008 at 9:15 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

You, Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous, miss my point entirely. It is that wearing a flag lapel pin or putting a bumper sticker on one's car does not make one more of a patriot than those who do not. It's a totally useless form of preaching to the choir. And I agree wholeheartedly with the earlier anonymous poster who said he is inclined to put his hand over his eyes, rather than his heart, when he hears the "Star Spangled Banner." I can't think of a time in my life when I was less proud of what our country stands for. As for morale, I think the best thing we could do to improve the morale of our country and, more importantly, our troops, is to get as many of our people as possible out of what is, ultimately, an unsalvageable hellhole. Unfortunately, we are now caught in a tar pit that will require us to keep thousands of troops in Iraq for probably decades in order to prevent total anarchy or the takeover of Iraq by some even more unsavory neighbors. As hard as it may be to believe, we may find ourselves longing for the days when Saddam Hussein was running Iraq. My nephew has served two tours of duty there. I just hope he gets out of the Army before they send him back for another year of service as a human target.

February 26, 2008 at 10:57 AM  

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