By Nan McKenzie
A patriotic song always makes me weep with emotion. “Oh, say can you see, by the dawn’s early light…” by the word light, my throat is closing and tears are working their way down my cheeks. By, “o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave”, I’m done for.
In July, I have many opportunities to weep in public and in private, because our nation seems to begin all over again in July, loudly celebrating, “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”. I’m unashamedly, proudly American, thankful every day to have been born here, live here, will die here. I love the patriotic parades, the red, white and blue colors everywhere, the fireworks, speeches. I often wear a combination of red, white and blue, sometimes for a week at a time, different clothes and different combinations of the colors, just to honor those who came before, who sacrificed, before.
I imagine what it was like for the colonists, chafing under the yoke of an uncaring monarch who lived thousands of miles away. I think about the firebrands who forced their fiery words on others, who bullied and inspired, cajoled and threatened, creating freedom, liberty, where there was none. I think of how that war of independence was divinely inspired and guided, how the tiny colonial states became a war engine of great force, pushing back, fighting back, repelling the huge disciplined armies clothed in bright red. I thank those ragtag warriors, am truly grateful for what they did, what they saw and changed. And I’ve always believed that those red-coated armies knew they fought for tyranny, injustice, and their hearts just weren’t in that war.
July seems to race along, mid-summer passing with hardly a shout. Time for a few more uplifting songs, some outdoor concerts, more celebration. The heat of July, the thunderstorms, will go, but somewhere living inside me are the tears, waiting to be cried with great emotion for my perfect good fortune to be an American!