A VERBAL ASSASSIN COMMENTARY
By Ron Lee
As I write this, today is Memorial Day, 2011. Instead of paying due homage to those who have fallen bravely protecting this country I am mourning the loss of this once great and proud nation. A nation born from the simplest of ideas… Liberty for all.
Each year in Grants Pass, Oregon, Memorial Day weekend is celebrated with the town’s Boatnik Festival. Over 5 days this celebration and local fundraiser offers a town parade, carnival rides and vendors at a splendid downtown park, jet boat races on the majestic Rogue River, a Memorial Day ceremony with a military fly-over and several nights of fireworks. Usually the eve of the holiday is reserved for the most vibrant of pyrotechnic displays; so my fiance and I were excited to attend.
We took our blankets, planned on eating a funnel cake smothered in strawberries, and headed toward the park looking forward to an evening cuddled together watching the light show.
Prior to the fireworks, a massive American flag was unfurled from a nearby bridge. Lit by spot lights, the flag shimmered as the Star Spangled Banner came over the speakers.
As our anthem played, my fiance and I stood upon our blanket with our hands over our hearts, arms interlocked. We were both proud and thankful; not only to be there in each other’s presence, but that so many had given so much for, well… us. It’s humbling.
The flag fluttering in the breeze; the song bellowing into the night; the beautiful woman next to me all made me feel alive and proud. I smiled broadly and diverted my eyes from the flag to see if others were standing there smiling, too. They weren’t.
In fact, almost half of the thousands in attendance were still seated, obviously not sharing our patriotic sentiments and not caring to be quiet either.
As I looked around studying their faces, I felt my smile wither into a grimace and my spirit darken.
I felt absolutely ashamed. I was ashamed that the obviously welfare-fed obese couldn’t stand to honor the country that fuels their gluttony; ashamed that the alcoholics continued to slurp their once outlawed booze instead of cheering the flag; ashamed at the amount of, what appeared to be, every day people who chose to ignore all they have been afforded and given – yes GIVEN – by the sacrifices of the fallen, just so they could straighten their blankets out and talk (yell over the music) with their friends.
But mostly, I was ashamed to see how many children were allowed to run rampant, yelling and screaming, not being taught or made to realize the magnitude of what so many others had given so that we could be there, in that moment, waving our glow-stick wands, about to be enthralled by fireworks launched from a barge in the center of the river.
It disgusted me. For the first time in my life I was actually ashamed of We, the people, for letting our country slip away into this self absorbed Me society that resembles nothing of the America I was raised to love and respect with my whole heart.
One thing I know for certain, those who have died for us; for America; for freedom and the Republic; they would be ashamed of all of us.
We let this all happen by not acting, not standing to be heard and forcing a redress of grievances; for not waving the flag at every opportunity and reading from the Constitution for everyone to hear and understand. Remember, the apathy of others cannot be an excuse for our own inaction!
For me, May 30, 2011 – Memorial Day – will forever be remembered as the day the spirit of America died.
I wonder, what will be the day when we re-ignite the flame; the fire in our souls to be free, yet belong to something greater than ourselves? Or, will we ever?
America, I miss you …