Sunday, July 5, 2009

The price paid for fireworks

Last night Dick and I went to Winslow for "Maine's largest firework display". It was pouring when we left, but we got a call from a very excited stranger that they were happening, rain or no rain. So, we went, with umbrellas and rain jackets in tow.

The "Winslow Family 4th of July Celebration" went on for 4 days, but we didn't see any of it, 'cept for the fireworks. They were good, as rural fireworks go. As I had written, I love my fireworks, and the finale was fabulous. We had a clear shot to the place where they were being set off, and that always thrills. I'm a bit of a firebug, I'd say.

The thing is, while this event was free, it wasn't entirely. We were not prepared for the price of propaganda, which put a larger damper on the show than the rain. If Obama is president, one wouldn't know it from last night's extravaganza. The fireworks, as many are these days, were accompanied by music, most of country, all of it patriotic, and loud quotes. It wasn't on the radio. It was being blared by giant speakers. It felt vaguely creepy, being subjected to this, and folks singing along, not to the national anthem, but to the country songs, with lyrics like "the guilty will pay!"

And then there were two long George W. Bush quotes. His voice, which I hoped I'd never hear again, and his justifications for the war in Iraq.

Earlier in the day, there was also "Maine's largest parade" and I just discovered that a local peace group was not allowed to participate, which raises many issues for all of us, about a public event, funded by both private donations and public taxes, which cherry picks the local community for what they consider to be "only that which is pro-America." I didn't know that questioning the deaths of our young people to an unpopular war is exactly what one would call un-american.

All those country songs about giving lives, limbs, eyeballs even, to live in peace and freedom, and a fairly large local group isn't free to give their point of view on a day celebrating this freedom.

The entire thing rankles me.

A highlight of the evening was overhearing a boy say to the girl whom he had his arms around all night, "Y'know, we're only American 'cause we were born here by luck. What's to be proud of?" To that, someone said, "Aw. Shut up dude." This was an ordinary-looking kid, not some "weirdo", and so it made me feel good that someone was thinking, especially when he looked far more interested in getting his hands under her t-shirt than anything else.

I still can't shake the voice of the former prez. Well, in spite of my little patriotic post yesterday, I'm glad the 4th is now over. But, I'll never drive through Winslow again without feeling shadowed by the sound of Mr. Bush's words and his absurd speech on the rightness of the war in Iraq.

I'm in a hurry: no visuals for this post.


jmcleod76 said...

Whoah, that's insane. I have a very low tolerance for patrotism to begin with, but I've never seen an Independence Day celebration quite that bad. Usually it's fairy harmless - tacky red, white and blue stuff similar to New Year's Eve favors, quotes from the Declaration of Independence, maybe a little Ray Charles singing America the Beautiful (which I like) or Lee Greenwood's "Proud to Be an American" (which I don't like, but can tolerate in a smarmy, self-congratulatory way).

Sorry you had to revisit the Shrub and listen to Toby Keith-style trash.

Julie H. Rose said...

I had to think for a moment about who the Shrub was! And you know who Toby Keith is, eh? Is he the one who sings about how his "daddy lost an eye and still flies the flag"?

Ah, I could not help thinking about how poor Winslow is, and how its young people are potential cannon fodder. . .

The other reason no peace groups were allowed to have float is that "many people in the armed forces show up for our celebration." I'm sure there's a few of them that wonder why they've lost body parts for our country (fighting for what exactly?) Sadly, these young folks keep mum, for the most part. I could go on and on about this, having heard so many Iraq war soldiers whilst getting tattooed, telling the dirty secret that they won't tell their family. . .they did not know what the hell we are fighting for over there. But, the families were proud of 'em, and they didn't want to lose their support. Oh, I did go on and on about it, but it's important, no?

I have little tolerance for patriotism, too, even though I feel some, which is more akin to gratitude (see yesterday's post).

Nation-states are an anachronism - it's one world now. Or it should be. . .