Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Flying the Flag and Expressing an Opinion

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During my adopted hometown's yearly Old Home Week celebration, nearly every home owner in the village lines the road by placing small American flags along the edge of their lawn. A classic New England village named Freedom (no kidding) decked out in red, white and blue and the scene could be viewed as quaint to a fault. The Old Home Week parade passes, veterans march, bands play, flags wave and fire truck sirens wail.

Blind nationalism always sort of rubs me the wrong way. When I hear the Lee Greenwood song "God Bless the USA" I find myself tuning in to my French Canadian roots and beating down an impulse to belt out "O' Canada". And while Toby Keith writes catchy tunes, I disagree with him that "putting a boot in their ass" is the American way. As the Olympics heat up this week, I know at least once or twice the USA chest thumping will get too loud and I'll change the channel. I'm not anti-my country. I guess I just don't see strength and wisdom in arbitrary bravado.

But, I'm annually surprised when I don't feel cynicism for the flourish in my little village. Instead, I feel pride for a small town coming together and carrying on a tradition with generational roots. I love seeing my son's reaction as we walk through town and take it all in. I involuntarily find myself humming John Cougar's song "Aint That America". On our way back home, we walk by my favorite row of flags at the Rhymer's house. What is more American than expressing an opinion. Even when it means you are slightly different from the rest of the crowd.
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