I made it down to DC on Sunday in time to take my family to the concert on the Mall. As we made our way from the DC Metro to the Mall my son tugged my sleeve and told me he wanted a flag. I grew up listening to Public Enemy, you know, “most of my heroes don’t appear on no stamps”, “don’t believe the hype,” “fight the power!”
But that was then.
I brought him the flag. He tripped happily along, waving it as he went. I was proud of him.
About an hour later, my son is bored. He doesn’t know any of these songs, he can’t reallly see what’s going on unless I hoist him up, which I can only do for a few minutes at a time (the kids are HEAVY now), its cold. I bend down and tell him, among other things, that he shouldn’t let the flag hit the ground, that to do so is to disrespect an important symbol. He acknowledges this and doesn’t let the flag touch earth, even as he keeps asking, “Can we go, NOW?”
A second later, as I bop along to Garth Brooks, I realize that never in the past had I cared about the stars and stripes. My father certainly never instilled any reverence of it into me when I was six. I learned about how to treat the flag in elementary school, but that was borne as much out of a desire to be part of the group that got to take the flag down from the flagpole at the end of the day as it was any real sense of patriotism.
I have particular taste in music. I hate songs that express unexamined sentitment. I prefer the minor keys, the complicated and overwrought to the sentimental, uplifting or triumphant. Give me Sade or Radiohead or Talib Kweli over Mariah, Dave Mathews or 50 any day. But, as Beyonce launched into “America the Beautiful” I found my heart filled with pride. I’ve heard the song before, but on Sunday those words…
I have no idea who I am anymore. The intellectual detachment is increasingly difficult to maintain. The cynicism is fading. What’s become of me?