I wanted a proper image for Independence Day. Something that meant something to ME....and this is it. This is the medal of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). It was a sort of fraternal organization for the Veterans of the Union forces following the Civil War. One of the main purposes of it was to advocate for the wounded veterans - and as such, the local branch, headed by our own Lucius Fairchild, became very active here in Madison, and in Wisconsin.
Now - as a (former?) Hippie and Peacenik and all that good stuff (sure, I DO hug trees, ya wanna make some'n of it?) there are those who think I don't care a rat's....a pound of....don't care very much for Independence Day. "My kind" has not been known as Flag Wavers, &c. And Those of Us who experienced Viet Nam (and came away believing that we'd learned, and THAT nightmare was laid to rest) are not the ones you might expect to see at the parades.
Well - WRONG ANSWER, CLIVE! (with apologies to anyone who is named...or related to anyone named..."Clive"). This time of year I always get downright verklempt. I think memories have something to do with it -- that and Realizations.
Memories? Guests at my mother's beautiful dinner parties with numbers tattooed on their arms. Seeing President Eisenhower (sitting on the back of an open convertible) in Minneapolis. Reading books about the Holocaust. Sitting in the ballet studio and listening to our Hungarian refugees talk about seeing the Russian tanks -- and one fellow described seeing his sister shot down as he fled with his family toward the Austrian border. And then -- seeing Willie, that handsome man whose face I see now in his son and his grandsons, in the uniform of the United States Army, with such a look of pride on his face.
Realizations? I can say that I think George Bush was an idiot and was responsible for some pretty bad horseapples....and no one will drag me out of my bed, pull me into the street and shoot me. I am SAFE in my little home. Because of my birth, and my lot in life (about which I had considerable choice) I am now 67 years old and have virtually everything my heart desires. Furthermore, I have Aspirations. I write silly kiddy stuff - and I might could just get it published! I can dance (don't worry, I won't SING) and I can go stand in front of my beautiful State Capitol and break the law by drinking raw milk....and complain because I don't like the way the whole thing fell out. (See "drag out of bed", above.)
So - forgive an old woman for getting all over sentimental. It's not lost on me that I have a life unimagined by women all over the world, and although we share sadnesses, we Americans (I can no longer watch much footage of oil-soaked wildlife) our blessings and privileges are endless.
The forecast is for thunderstorms tonight - so I expect that we'll vary our usual routine: instead of taking cream-cheese-and-olive finger sandwiches and lemonade to Black Hawk for fireworks - we'll stay home and watch televised fireworks while eating leftovers (barbecued ribs slathered in Lovely Daughter's singular sauce, cole slaw with Rudolph's singular dressing -- and probably Kitty Mommy's homemade strawberry jam, which really DOES taste like fresh strawberries....maybe ON something other than a spoon. Which is the way I've eaten some of it. NEVERMIND.)
So Happy 4th of July, fellow Americans! A salute to our young men and women in uniform - especially my own fine Marine grandson, he of his grandfather's handsome face. May the day come when all the parades in all the towns and cities have rank after rank of our soldiers and sailors marching behind the flag.......here at home. Safe.