This is my 67th Fourth of July and this is a Eulogy.
I need to lay to final rest, once and for all, the last tattered shreds of my love for and blind faith in this land of mine.
To lose a long beloved one, is very hard. Even harder, is having to admit that that long beloved one never truly existed in the first place.
As if only yesterday, the memories of being literally filled to overflowing with a such deep and abiding love of America I could hardly contain it are still fresh for me.
Every soldier I saw on the street was a part of my very own child’s heart: I loved them all so much, I embarrassed my mother terribly by inviting every soldier I met home for dinner. I had to do “something” for them at age six..anything..to show them how much I loved them all.
I remember that I cried off and on all day on the 4th of July, as I watched the Parade, hearing the Parade Drums, seeing the crisp formations of soldiers pass by, simply overwhelmed with pride and yearning to be a part of them someday. I’d find a way, even if I was “just a girl”.
Memorial Day and the Fourth of July were the most important days in the year to me, much more special than Christmas. The whole world stopped back then, to honor these days of gratitude for those who sacrificed their lives for our beloved America, and to celebrate her with all we had, on Independence Day.
Some of those memories are permanently etched in my brain.
Memorial Day at Evergreen Cemetery, the whole town present, the crisply uniformed ranks, the solemn boom of the 21 gun salute, the planes flying over in missing man formation…and oh, all of the flags proudly flying against the verdant green, on the graves of all those who sacrificed their lives for us….
Then came the 4th of July. Independence Day. Time to truly celebrate the birth of this Great Nation: the Home of the Free and the Brave. I am feeling frustrated as I write, because I sense there are no words I could use, to bring anyone back there with me who has never once experienced this kind of Patriotism, the kind that seemed programmed into ones very DNA.
Another memory is also etched permanently and so vivid it can still bring tears. Standing at full attention, saluting, as the crisp, perfect formations of Soldiers marched by, my own heartbeat in total synch with the Parade Drums. Every cell of my six year old body yearning to be a part of this, filled with determination to BE a part of it, someday, even if I was “just a girl”.
So odd it seems, that memories like that not only refuse to die, but refuse to even fade, after all these long hard years of discovering that nearly all of it was a bald face lie.
This discovery took forever..and was, in a word, simply excruciating, every damned bit of it. It was like getting my heart torn out of my body, one small bloody bit at a time. (Except during Viet Nam, when half of it got butchered and buried along side my brother in a very short time)
And it has meant giving up the very foundations my life was built on. The love of a land where I “belonged” to something so vast, so grand, something that would always be there for me, take care of me, something so good, … to spend the rest of my life without that foundation at ALL. I am now a “person without a country” because the country I thought I belonged to simply never existed
“My Country ‘Tis of Thee..” I sang out so proudly, for so long, along with everyone else..”Sweet Land Of Liberty…of Thee I Sing!”
There is, I don’t think, any safer more wonderful feeling a human can ever have, than to feel THAT much belonging; THAT much love for ones country.
So when I run into older right wing patriotic types now, the ones who WILL NOT SEE…and WILL NOT CHANGE, yes, I understand them. To expect them to change, is to expect them to willing cut out their own hearts. Not all of us can do that and still survive, or are willing to even try. Then factor in the effects of right wing fundamentalist religion, ..and it’s easy to see why maintaining the status quo is their life’s work.
I don’t believe most of todays (ah hem) “leaders” who have systematically torn down even the illusion of what America was and is, are old “cellular level” Patriots like this.
I think most of THEM are greedy, power mad, souless, sociopathic BASTARDS who are smart enough to have learned how to exploit and harness up all us old patriots, and exploit the hell out of us for personal power and gain.
And until “WE” ALL DIE OFF…(everyone who was raised with that almost cellular level of patriotic programming, about the history of this country, and those so well programmed by war-like religious fundamentalism,) and are replaced by enough of you, who were born into lifetimes where you had a damned chance to form your own beliefs..not a hell of a lot is going to go in any direction other than the one we’re heading in right now, big picture. That’s just how it looks to me from here.
So now must say my final good by to that America I once believed was my very own Heart-Land. It was but an beautiful illusion, inserted into my soul.
I can no longer sing “My County, ‘Tis of thee, Sweet Land of Liberty, of Thee I Sing!”
But I can still sing, in a softer, sadder voice,
“My Country, Yet To Be…Sweet Land Of liberty…of Thee I Sing..”
And I am singing it, to all of you.
Take her. She’s yours now, such as she is.
Don’t hate us too much please.
Most of us did the best we could, with what we believed was true.
Remember that America, as she could be, and as I believe she is intended to be, is still in the womb gestating. She has not yet truly been “born” yet: the labor is long and it is hard, and it is going to take all of you to get this baby delivered.
It won’t be an easy birthing and I don’t think it can be done with old methods and systems long in place, either. Those belong to an era that is passing by. If every there was a time for innovation, for blazing new pathways… it’s now.
Me, well, I’m fine now. Us humans are remarkable in how much we can adapt to “whatever is”, given time enough to get past all the phases of shock, denial, depression, bargaining and finally, to acceptance and peace.
I trust you. I can make my exit knowing you will do your part in this birthing process.
(Not perfectly, however. You will bumble and stumble and get lost and try to kill each other off..just as we did!)
I still can hear the fetal heartbeat of this land yet to be born and I believe she is still viable.
And somehow, I just know I will get to see it, wherever the hell I end up..even if only as dust on the wind.. 🙂