Soupy’s Soapbox

Betsy Ross lived at Arch Street and Second
And her sewing was very, very fine
General Washington came to see her
To order a brand new flag
Six white stripes and seven pretty red ones
Thirteen stars on a field of blue
It was the first flag our country ever floated
Hooray for the red, white and blue!

How is it that I can still remember that song? Simple, it’s the same way I still remember Yankee Doodle or The Battle Hymn of the Republic. My parents taught them to me, when they taught me about patriotism, and what it means to be an American. I’m not talking about Rah, Rah! run out and join the Marines patriotism (my mom readily admits she was prepared to whisk me away to Canada when the first Gulf War started. What can I say, she’s a registered Democrat who thought the reinstatement of the draft was imminent, and I was just too adorable to go off to war), but a sense of pride and gratefulness for where I lived.

Luckily for my parents and for me, my school reinforced their lessons. We pledged our allegiance to the flag, we prayed to God, we learned about the greatness that IS America. We were proud of our republic; all of us, students, parents and teachers. And somehow, it didn’t matter who was in the Oval Office. Somehow the values that we all shared as Americans transcended the office of the President, they were constant and unwavering.

Now it seems those values have been politicized, lobbied for and against. The only thing that remains the same is that it still doesn’t matter who is in the Oval Office.

I know I am remembering my childhood with a certain naivete that goes with the age, but I believe I am remembering those days fairly accurately because I recall experiencing a much too brief rekindling of those ideals. It was September 12, 2001. Do you remember that day?

All of a sudden, politics didn’t matter again. We were just a collection of families, friends, neighbors, Americans. Do you remember how you felt? I do. Sure, there was pain and anger, but I also remember feelings of inspiration and invigoration. So why didn’t it last? Probably the same reason those values disappeared in the first place, parents and schools stopped teaching them.

So the next time you’re on a long car trip with your family, sing those silly sounding songs about Betsy Ross, and Uncle Sam, and Yankee Doodle like my family used to. Your country will thank you.

P.S. I am in no way implying that my family was perfect. None of us could carry a tune, and my mother taught us the wrong words to Yankee Doodle (Why the hell would Yankee Doodle go to London, mom?). I expect my family was alot like yours, I just think our car radio was broken alot.

I also know there are many among you who do instill those values in your children, only to watch your efforts erode with each passing school day. Just keep doing what you’re doing, we’re not standing on a cliff, we are merely at a fork in the road. Hmm, what would Robert Frost do?

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2 Responses to “Soupy’s Soapbox”

  1. 100% correct! We’ve already forgotten what it means to be American. It’s the acceptance and love of freedom. I know we love our freedom, but we don’t accept it. What I mean by that is that everyone within our borders has the right to live freely as they wish as long as they’re not breaking our laws!

    Jim Bennett

  2. September 12th was a beautiful day for that reason alone…and obviously a very dark day for every other reason. Where did all of the love go?