Today at my school, we are encouraged to wear red, white, and blue to celebrate Veteran's Day (our school is closed tomorrow, in honor of the holiday). I wish we were doing something a bit more solid, like collecting money for the groups that do so much to help both service members and veterans. I wish we could make care kits. I'd like to write some letters.
There's a huge poster in the lobby where we can write our thank you notes. I'm not sure what will happen to that poster. I hope that the veterans who go to our school will feel good.
Perhaps, though, like me, they will feel a bit uneasy. I'm the daughter of an Air Force colonel. I know that there's so much more to patriotism than wearing red, white and blue. I know so many who have paid so much. Our freedom to say what we want, to go where we want, to worship (or not) as we please, to read whatever is available--those freedoms don't happen by accident. And recent events show in a variety of ways that those freedoms are always under threat.
My fear is that we are all about to learn that lesson--again--firsthand, as fundamentalist groups move into a more open war against the developed world. We can ignore a beheading here and there. When planes explode over the Sanai desert, does it signal something new?
I think of the Yeats poem, "The Second Coming," and all those rough beasts now slouching towards Bethlehem. Perhaps I shall write a poem of my own this Veteran's Day.
I've considered not wearing red, white, and blue, in protest of the cheap patriotism that it inspires. But in the end, I'll wear my red skirt and blue top. I will not be that preachy scold who lectures people.
But in my heart, I'll silently offer up fervent prayers for peace. Even though it's not Memorial Day, I'll remember all the veterans who are no longer with us, including my best friend whom I first met in high school. I'll say my thanks that I can write such thoughts as I have written here and not be hauled off to jail or worse. I'll wish that this kind of freedom sails out into the world.
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