4th. of July

I had a wonderful 4th. of July, celebrating with friends at an “ice ream social” on Pontoosuc Lake, not far from my home in the Berkshires. Good food and good conversation and refreshingly non-political (except for a few expressions of gratitude that we were nowhere near Washington D.C.).

But while I was happy that the party, and in fact my whole day, was non-political, it was also, at least in stereotypical ways, non-patriotic. There were no flags and no Sousa marches. We oohed and aahed at the fireworks without the stirring musical accompaniment I remembered from my youth. I missed the trappings and thought about what it means to be a patriot.

I love my country. I believe that as a patriot I am obligated to point out is flaws and object when its leaders stray from its fundamental values. I am obligated to recognize that in fact these values have never been fully realized for many of its citizens and to fight to change that. I do not love my country unconditionally.

When I was a 19 year old college student I marched on Washington to protest the Vietnam War. I will never forget arriving in the early morning to find solders on the rooftops with rifles pointed at me. I wanted my voice to be heard. I wanted my country to be better. But somehow I had become the enemy. I felt betrayed and disillusioned, but, over the years, continued to march, to speak out and to act. I have remained a patriot.

Barbara ViniarComment