I'm not seeing the U.S.A. in my Chevrolet, as they used to coax in 1960s television commercials, but I have been meandering the small towns of my northern Michigan childhood in my Honda. Local groups and individual citizenry have decked out
towns and homes in flags and swags of red, white and
blue. Preparations are in full swing for the ignition of
both fireworks and grills. State parks and the Forest
Service have in turn posted their fireworks prohibition notices. Outwardly, little seems to have changed over the years, but barely scratch that quaint surface and I find that the foundation of patriotism in our country is not quite what it once was. It seems as though political rhetoric has levered itself into position to substitute loyalty to party fervor for loyalty to country. No soldier or sailor ever died defending the Democratic or Republican party. No immigrant ever worked to one day raise their right hand and publicly ledge allegiance to the Tea Party. We're all here, living the lives we choose to live because those who came before us fought both literally and figuratively for our collective independence. Fewer of us these days are touched directly by the sacrifices made on our behalf for the many freedoms we enjoy. Less history is taught in grade school. Many people don't know the words to the Pledge of Allegiance or the national anthem. But there are no prerequisites of loyalty for participation in the rights and freedoms offered to us as citizens of our country. We aren't even required to cook burgers and hot dogs and watch fireworks on the Fourth of July...but I'll betcha most of us will.