Monday, June 22, 2009

July 4, 1776 - 2009

Thoughts on Independence Day, 2009

When I was a little girl, my mama bought a book for me entitled "Family Book of Best Loved Poems." It was filled with the most wonderful poetry and I read it from cover to cover several times. There was a section in the book called "American Poetry" that I found myself turning to it several times during the year, especially around the fourth of July. At that time in my young life, I didn't have the vocabulary or the reasoning power to understand the tightness in my chest or the tear in my eye, but I felt it was something deep and important. It was instilled in me by both of my parents, but especially my dad who had served in the Navy during WWII and had an abiding love for this country. I remember watching him say the Pledge of Allegiance or sing the "Star Spangled Banner." I would look at him out of the corner of my eye and see his eyes glistening with restrained tears. There was always a look of fierce pride, and as a kid, and because I did love my daddy, I would puff my chest as big as possible and lift my head a little higher and try my best to let my dad know that I could feel that emotion, too, even if I didn't yet understand it.

As I've grown and matured, or at least gained a little wisdom, I recognize that emotional display as a sign of intense patriotism. It saddens me that we don't see it as often or as openly as we once did. It seems that people aren't educated anymore in the protocol of saying the Pledge or singing our national anthem. I'm not even sure they know the words. I could get terribly cynical about it all, but today, I've decided not to indulge in that waste of time. Instead, I'm going to focus on the greatness of our country and on the thousands of people who do, indeed, still know that protocol, understand the feeling of patriotism and would nod and agree with that fierce pride on my dad's face; those patriots who would understand the tear in his eye, the lump in his throat and would share that emotion with him - and with me, as the child and as the woman grown.

So, in honor of July 4, 2009, I have printed here a very special poem from the book my mama gave me. It is written by that most famous of writers, Unknown, aka Anonymous. I wish I knew who did write it. I'd love to track them down - or their descendants - and tell them how much this poem has meant to me for most of my life. I long ago memorized the final stanza and, believe it or not, I think of it more often than I can say. It just pops into my head when I'm watching the news or when I hear certain music, there it is, repeating quietly in the background of my mind. I hope you enjoy it, too. More than that, I hope it remains true long after blogs or Twitter or the internet make it possible to communicate it. I hope, for all of us, it never dies.

Happy, safe July 4th, friends. Enjoy!

Independence Bell - July 4, 1776

There was a tumult in the city
In the quaint old Quaker town,
And the streets were rife with people
Pacing restless up and down-
People gathering at corners,
Where they whispered each to each,
And the sweat stood on their temples
With the earnestness of speech.

As the bleak Atlantic currents
Lash the wild Newfoundland shore,
So they beat against the State House,
So they surged against the door,
And the mingling of their voices
Made the harmony profound,
Till the quiet street of Chestnut
Was all turbulent with sound.

"Will they do it?" "Dare they do it?"
"Who is speaking?" What's the news?"
"What of Adams?" "What of Sherman?"
"Oh, God grant they won't refuse!"
"Make some way there!" "Let me nearer!"
"I am stifling!" "Stifle then!
When a nation's life's at hazard,
We've no time to think of men!"

So they surged against the State House,
While all solemnly inside,
Sat the Continental Congress,
Truth and reason for their guide,
O'er a simple scroll debating,
Which, though simple it might be,
Yet should shake the cliffs of England
With the thunders of the free.

Far aloft in that high steeple
Sat the bellman, old and gray,
He was weary of the tyrant
And his iron-sceptered sway,
So he sat, with one hand ready
On the clapper of the bell,
When his eye could catch the signal,
The long-expected news to tell.

See! See! The dense crowd quivers
Through all its lengthy line,
As the boy beside the portal
Hastens forth to give the sign!
With his little bands uplifted,
Breezes dallying with his hair,
Hark! with deep, clear intonation,
Breaks his young voice on the air.

Hushed the people's swelling murmur,
Whilst the boy cries joyously;
"Ring!" he shouts, "Ring! Grandpapa,
Ring! oh, ring for Liberty!"
Quickly, at the given signal
The old bellman lifts his hand,
Forth he sends the good news, making
Iron music through the land.

How they shouted! What rejoicing!
How the old bell shook the air,
Till the clang of freedom ruffled
The calmly gliding Delaware!
How the bonfires and the torches
Lighted up the night's repose,
And from the flames, like fabled Phoenix,
Our glorious liberty arose!

That old State House bell is silent,
Hushed is now its clamorous tongue;
But the spirit it awakened
Still is living-ever young;
And when we greet the smiling sunlight
On the fourth of each July,
We will ne'er forget the bellman
Who, betwixt the earth and sky,
Rung out, loudly, "Independence!"
Which, please God, shall never die!

- Unknown author

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dazed and Confused

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I can't tell you how often I've started to add to this blog page, but have stopped because I don't know where to start. There is simply too much happening too quickly, and it's very hard to comprehend it all. I marvel that people who are truly trying to report the news, the changes and the new legislation can sleep at night. I would imagine their brains are constantly whirring. I know mine is, but maybe that's just the sound of confusion and desperation.

I'm confused about the vast amount of legislation the government is imposing in areas where it has absolutely no jurisdiction.

I'm confused that nearly every day a new bill is being passed that on its surface may look beneficial, but just beneath the surface, one more of our rights is being taken from us.

I'm confused that our representatives in Congress, the ones we personally voted into office, are so carefully, correctly hmm-ing about these bills instead of posting themselves in front of President Obama's desk and screaming at him.

I'm confused that our economy, which has always been a tremulous thing, is now completely buried under mountains of debt. The phrase used most often to describe it is that our "grandchildren are now in debt." The phrase has been used until no one hears it anymore, but doesn't make it less true. I have no children, but I have godchildren and I don't want them or their children to have to pay for this stupidity and greed, and that's all in the world it is. But they will and until the spending stops, their debt mounts daily.

I confused by the total lack of respect for and adherence to the Constitution by this administration and many before it. If anyone in this administration or Bush's administration had even read the Constitution, they might have realized that everything that's been done in the past 100+ days - and many things done in the years preceding - are illegal! This is government gone wild. It would make a great title for the horror movie. "Government Gone Wild! See gavels pounding as legislation is passed! See screaming in the streets! See brains explode!" Don't you sometimes feel like your brain is simply going to explode with frustration and panic?

I'm confused that a sitting President would even consider appointing "czars" to head posts newly created by him and who report only to him, and I'm confused that Congress would allow him to do it! We have a system of government set up that does not include czars, dictators or any other department heads outside of those mandated by prior legislation. The czar system gives the President total control over areas of government that already have departments in place, and that's illegal! It's called "checks and balances," folks. What part of the Constitution does President Obama not understand? Oh, sorry. I forgot. He hasn't read the Constitution so how could he know? Maybe it's time one of our congressional representatives told him. Y'think?

I'm confused that the Supreme Court has somehow finagled its way into a position where, rather than enforcing the Constitution, it interprets the Constitution. This ain't the Bible, folks. It's not open to interpretation. It states clearly what the law is and how it should be executed. Nowhere in the Constitution is the Supreme Court given the right to ignore contract law. Nowhere does it state that if a company goes bankrupt, the Supreme Court can mandate how its creditors will be paid. The bankruptcy and subsequent sale of Chrysler to Fiat is a farce, plain and simple.

I'm confused how the leader of our country has the audacity of deceit to stand before us and state that his ideas for healthcare will not mirror the systems in the U.K. and Canada, and then, then!, to state, straightfaced and unblinking that it's going to help us get better healthcare in this country. It's a lie. Yes, I'm saying that the President of the United States of America is a liar. (If I disappear, you'll all know why.) If you'd like to read a draft of this new gem of a healthcare plan, you can see it at: It is a draft, so make a note of the parts that are marked for revision.

I could go on and on and on, but I won't. The desperation is rising in the back of my throat again and I'm having to choke it down. I, like so many others, look at our wonderful country and see the changes, as promised, that are happening. I don't like it. I don't like to watch people monitor their speech so they don't accidentally offend some overly sensitive person, race, group or religion.

I don't like the fact that our, yes our, congressional representatives are either part of the multitude of problems that plague us, or are not making a big enough stink to cause a solution to the problems.

I don't like the fact that I now feel better after I spent an afternoon doing target practice with my husband and a friend. It's not that I fear a junkie or just a plain ole burglar breaking in, but I fear my own government and the direction it so obviously is taking. I fear that one day, I may need to know how to defend my home against our own military, or against my neighbors who may join forces against me. That frightens the hell out of me.

I don't like seeing the changes happening all over the world either. When I read stories about kids stomping innocent animals to death, or torturing each other because it looks like fun, I get a little worried, y'know? When I hear about someone breaking into a museum and killing a guard and shooting up the place, I worry. When I read stories about rapes and murders of women and children in Muslim countries, I worry. When I see news stories about Muslim leaders instructing their students how to get anthrax into this country undetected with the intention of killing a few thousand of us, I worry.

Gone are the days of civility in the general population. We can persist among ourselves, but society at large grows increasingly rude and lewd and, what at one time was, socially unacceptable. Now, it's all acceptable. I don't know if there's a way to ever get that back, especially when the leader of our country is so ill mannered as to return honored gifts to Britain or give an IPod to the Queen of England. Good God. How embarrassing.

I'm stopping now as I sense I'm beginning to rant. We can't have that. It would only add to the chaos. In closing, let me say this: pray. If you've got a spiritual connection to anything at all, fall on your knees and pray like you've never prayed before. There's a battle coming. It will be here sooner than you, or I, expect. I wish very deeply that I was just paranoid, but I am hearing the same thing being said from many quarters. As Dr. Johnny Fever said on that classic TV show "WKRP in Cincinnati": "When the whole world's against you, paranoia's just good sense."

Pray, watch and be very careful.