Internet cache or johnnydeppwatch
Our American 4rth of July began yesterday on the 3rd of July since Saturday was better for public displays of the annual fireworks and for commercial gains as this national holiday brings family and friends together. (Also more time and excuses for the drinkers to drink and buy lots of alcohol.) Everyone was out Saturday already strolling the shops and streets and eating barbecue. "The Fourth" began for me quite a few days ago in our neighborhood...
Certainly, I appreciate fun children have with the fireworks. They love doing their own and they go crazy at the larger brilliant rainbow shows in the sky. Everyone here enjoys the family events and community cook-outs that go along with the fireworks.
But each time they go off every year, I'm sure at first that a mass shooting has hit our neighborhood. The loud echoing and popping sounds like staccato gun-firings all across the area. And each year they seem to get louder! Or is that just my ears growing older? Or maybe it's my patience growing thin for celebrations of war long ago when my nation is still provoking them?
The kids are willing to do all manner of jobs in order to buy even more fireworks often illegally imported to our state. Noise sells well especially with boys.
I've been hearing the "practice sessions" of noisy firecrackers from China going off in the neighborhood now for a week it seems at all hours of the day and night and I'm tired of short nights and my son's poor whimpering dog crawling in corners and following me around everywhere I go!
But I'm even more disgusted with the annual overplaying of our National Anthem. Like many others I'm sick of a song glorifying war.
"O'er the land of the free (?) and the home of the brave...
...In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:
Tis the star-spangled banner: O, long may it wave..
And where is that band...
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution. (?)
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n-rescued (?) land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation! (?)
Then conquer we must, when our cause. it is just (? was it ever, is it now?)
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust" (OH who's God is this? or is it in the Pentagon? Blackwater, our commanders? More Occupied land? Power? Misplaced pride? Zionist Israel? Never being "wrong"?, more oil, guns, bombs, drones?)
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!"
(No longer do others call us Americans brave in battle! You see why many of us are sick of our nationalism or patriotism -- sick of our flag?)
Some have suggested we change our anthem to "America the Beautiful" and yes, I used to love it too. One of the first movies ever I saw was as a young girl and I was so engrossed in the media of film as I watched over and over early circular cinema enraptures and feeling I was flying on a real plane over the gorgeous planes mountains and ecstatic variety of venues across our country.
Yet how often is America STILL beautiful to either people abroad or those of us still living right here? How have her citizens allowed our name to be so undignified and trampled upon by our own war-mongers and torturers?
Some have suggested changing our anthem to "This Land is Your Land".
"This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me...
(Was it really? What about the people who's land we occupied?)
...I've roamed and rambled and I've followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me
(Oh, who's voice was that?)
...As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin'
But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!"
(Well, the day for tress passin' is over now on OUR land and OTHER'S land. Nope, that song won't work anymore!)
"In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office - I see my people
And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin'
If this land's still made for you and me."
While I have sorta liked that song in the past and sung it often...it doesn't cut it for me anymore.
How about an equally skilled songwriter composing one entitled:
"THIS WORLD IS YOUR WORLD, THIS WORLD IS MY WORLD?"
And how about EVERY nation -- including (and ESPECIALLY) the United States of America -- asking herself IF this world is our world, this land is our land, this people worldwide are OUR people, how then should we act? How then should we love? How then should we make peace? What might be the Unique Part we each could play? Enough of National Flags and Anthems that are all about war and bombs dropping to tap the worst impulses of our peoples and our nations!
Every Fourth a few of us stand on the road leading to the fireworks at the College and near our courthouse with simple signs: "Peace Works" - "Let Peace Come" and a few lanterns. Every year here and at our weekly vigil more and more people give us a peace sign or a honk of agreement or tell us glad we're out there standing up for both the troops who need to come home and the people who are hurt by our warmongering...sometimes someone comes by who's knows someone, maybe a loved one who's been injured or died in the current war or even from Vietnam
and thanks us profusely for standing in their stead.
Well, I did enjoy the glorious rainbow of fireworks that lit the sky last night - shot off from our local college -- as I drove home from purchasing my EAR PLUGS. And I reminded myself that kids all over the nation were enjoying the same view and lighting some of their own.
And I was and am excited that my immediate family was going to be together this Sunday.
Yet, the larger questions need to keep reverberating throughout this beautiful land:
How and When are we going to call our young and all the others HOME from occupying foreign land? When are we going to restore the Bill of Rights, the US Constitution and our profound international agreements? When will we start living out those beautiful words attached to Lady liberty and found on the pedestal of her statue?
"...Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
(From Emma Lazarus' poem)
I hear the song made from these words still wringing in my ear on this 4th of July:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...",
Why then have we NOT left alone the pomp and glory of other cultures but rather have destroyed the same? And why do we so often imprison and torture many of these same poor as well as middle class and so many innocent and others from within and without our citizenry and those usually untried or if so unfairly so from distant lands?
What sort of legacy are WE going to give and leave our dear beloved children, each and all?
Also as a young girl of twelve or so I sang in a school choir the song:
"Let There Be Peace on Earth" and I've been singing and loving it ever since. This is the question for us each and all, no?
"Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now.
With every step I take
Let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment
And live each moment
In peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me."
Well, the kids in my neighborhood and many will keep shooting their firecrackers and works for some days to come and the dog will keep whimpering and following us around. (In fact one particularly resounding firecracker just went off now!) Bless the innocence and may there be plenty of fun for All children everywhere.
And thanx be for earplugs!
Photo credit for Lady Liberty: REENA ROSE SIBAYAN / THE JERSEY JOURNAL