2010-07-01 / View From the Middle

This Year, Don’t Forget Our Troops On July 4th

View From The Middle
By Charles Rogers
While we’re all out basking on the lawn or at the beach or sitting back with a beer in one hand and a hot dog in the other and observing the Fourth of July holiday Monday, please don’t forget to remember what it’s all about. I know, the real 4th is Sunday, but most folks will do their thing the next day, except for watching the Macy’s fireworks thing on the Hudson, which is scheduled for Sunday.

Or maybe you’ll be one of the neighbors of the guy who is celebrating this particular day that we became independent of the 1776 Establishment by trying to be independent of the 2010 Establishment and illegally setting off his own fireworks in the back yard. Oooh, will he be in TROUBLE!

This year, we’ve got to be a little more serious, though, about our reason for celebrating. We’re a free country, after all. That’s worth it, you know? If you’ve ever seen people who live in an oppressed and/or war-torn country you’ll know what I mean.

We all must have noticed lately how little emphasis has been placed on the members of the Armed Forces who are serving on active duty, especially in Afghanistan, and I am saddened by it. We hear words that seem to be mere lip service when those brave warriors are referred to.

What ever happened to patriotism? Although we sing God Bless America in the middle of the seventh inning during Yankees’ ball games, you don’t see much sincerity in the faces of those who have to stand while Kate Smith does her thing. How many of those gum-chewing, spitting, talking and nonsinging people are really thinking about the “mountains and the prairies and the oceans white with foam”? Not many. You know it and I know it.

There once was a time when we were at war (my God, when weren’t we at war?) when we’d see posters all over the place telling us to think of our troops overseas. It wasn’t an afterthought then. It was the main gist of the sign on the side of the subway train or the bus. It was something that had been given thought: “Our troops are ‘over there’ and we want them back, safe and sound,” they’d say with conviction. Now there’s nothing — no signs, no flags, no scribbled words — nothing even to admit we have soldiers and Marines and Navy men and women literally shooting and being shot at “over there.”

And dying ”over there.”

Daniel Webster said, “Let our object be our country, our whole country and nothing but our country. And, by the blessing of God, may that country itself become a vast and splendid monument, not of oppression and terror, but of wisdom, of peace and of liberty, upon which the world may gaze with admiration forever.”

When you’re taking the kids to the park this weekend…when you and the wife are watching movie…when the Boston Pops Symphony plays either “Strike Up The Band” or the “French National Anthem” (with apologies to the French, but it’s a heckofa composition!) against the background of fireworks and flashing lights and the explosions of cannon played on huge kettledrums, please, please — let’s not forget to remember what it’s all about.

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