Tonight, I suppose, more than any other in my life, do I feel the press of 300 years of American ancestry. Tonight, more than any other so far in my life, do I feel such an anxiety about what kind of world I'm soon (well, in the next score-or-so of years) to hand down.
It is with many an emotional and tearful redaction that I humbly offer this petition to you, my American brothers and sisters.
Nothing makes one evaluate one's legacy until some kinfolk with "grand" in their kinship arrives. We are most certainly closer to a constitutional crisis than ever before in American history, albeit in the scope of world history, a short, but colorful one.
As I have posted before, my roots reach 300+ years into North Carolina soil. Well, if you trace my white roots, that is. My mellungeon and Native roots run far deeper. I am ineluctibly tied and bound to this soil. My love for this place, this state, and this nation is that of a mix of a mother, a daughter and a lover all at once. This is my home, the land of my eleven-grands-parents and the joy I hope to hand down.
Equal in importance to me are my ties to the Constitution of the United States. North Carolina was known as the Hornets' Nest, the Cradle of Liberty, the home of the Regulators, the First in Freedom and so much more. Two of my many-greats grandfathers were present at the signing of the Mecklenburg Resolves. The Yankees love to talk about Boston, the Minutemen and that's what we got fed in grade-school. When one investigates the time-line of American history, one will find that North Carolina led the way in every way, shape and form.
Of this, am I sprung.
As North Carolinians, we are born an independent people, neither quite red nor blue, classically purplish demopublican; the first to declare independence from Britain, the last to secede from the Union (amidst great internal strife), and we love being Americans.
Well, it seems to me that we used to. My heart breaks; breaks quite in finely-shattered pieces that we seem to have lost our way, our fire, our passion, and our cherished independence.
Sadly, too many of us have thrown away that heritage of proud, independent thought and such a way of life to accept whatever cheap Chinese crap Wallyworld was pushing this week.
Dear G'd, forgive us for not appreciating the gift of independent thought and free will You gave. I, for one, beg Your forgiveness at the lack of consideration in negligently tossing away the bounty of intelligence and considerate mentation You so freely gave.
During my short lifetime (I'll be 50 in two weeks), we've gone from the world leader in textiles and chemistry to accepting last place in whatever.
I mean simply "whatever". However heartbreaking a term that may be, ish-allah, one must admit, here we are. How was it so easy, so slippery-slidey, down-the-red-clay-bank to just toss it all over our collective shouler?
NC used to have a fine educational system. To wit: I learned English (and have an Appalachian hillbilly's Elizabethan joy in the sweet slipperiness of our language of commerce). This joy of language wasn't acquired at my mother's breast; it was fostered in our school system. My Appalachian kinsfolk reveled in its ancient and modern twists and turns.
Since I'm a child of the 1960's, I was exposed to New Math. Since this is America, I had an equal chance at travelling to the moon. Right? Or am I sadly mistaken?
I'll freely admit, my notion of trigonometry still stinks, but in the least, I was exposed. Granted my lack of talent in that direction, I still was given the chance. Such was the pride of NC's school system -- even the least of us (of which I am certainly one) had the promise of being "something more", "something better" than that poor lot from which we were sprung.
In me, it seemed to take.
I'm not convinced in the least that NCLB offers anywhere near the same degree of opportunity. There are younger people posting on many of the blogs I'm wont to inhabit, who can barely spell "cat". When did we lose our pride in excellence and just bloody when did we as a nation lose our will to excel?
When did "good enough" become good enough?
I yearn, deeply in my soul, I yearn to know. Was it the privation and poverty of my youth that commands me to appreciate the potential and promise that the word and concept the very and singular word "America" brings? What is that allows today's youth to believe that all that we have, all that for which our ancestors have striven is simply "for granted".
Allow me to be among the many Progressive patriots who will assure you that freedom is never "for granted". It must be worked, sweated in sweltering summers, shivered in bitter snows, and wrenchingly labored for. It must be at momentary personal risk. One must be willing to suffer for it. Otherwise, it wouldn't be "freedom" or "liberty" or any other human prize worth existing for.
Occasionally, in such as times as these, one must be willing to die, if necessary, for it. In an age where, at any moment, any one of us can be snatched off the street and imprisoned in Gitmo for opposing the regime (think, just for a second how completely unAmerican a concept that is!!), the idea of American democracy and freedom seem especially rare and precious a commodity.
My ancestors would spin in their graves at the mere passing thought of how close we are coming. My soul cannot rest at night. My spirit cries out to G'd for respite, for mercy, for Goodness to prevail. Again, to each one, "it is up to me, in just this minute, to shine but a spark of light, a notion of kindness, a mercy of liberty and dignity" which defines us as truly and inextricably American, one which strives to overcome the sins of Manifest Destiny and yearns to unite and assuage the hurts and harms, to form a fair, unique and thoughtful family in which each gets an equal place at the table of life: just as Jesus would have been proud to have fostered.
On Memorial Day, I must look back fondly (and somewhat aghast at my youthful audacity) at my service to my country. In my family, it was expected that a young man provide for his country as his country had cradled and provided for him. It was never a question: one provided for that which provided for him.
G'd help us every one, there is no excuse, but that is the sudden depressing -- nay, appalling -- reality with which we are faced. My heart sinks and tears fill my eyes at how easy it has been for us to piss it away. We are at no closer point of losing our cherished Constitutional rights and freedoms that this particular moment in time.
Did the sacrifices of our ancestors mean nothing at all? Does the blood of our fallen veterans mean nothing? Does our national pride, our personal, day-to-day dignity mean so little? Surely, surely-to-G'd, we have more pride and dignity than to allow the few, the privileged, the callous, to purchase for nothing and sell off at profit our national pride, dignity and standing for nothing more than Chinese-manufactured polyester American flags hawked by Wallyworld seems to me altogether all-to inconscionably cheap a price; a mere thrippance on a ten-pound note.
On this Memorial Day, I ask you to think of my fellow veterans; not only of this age, but of centuries past. I ask you to ponder, just for one fleeting moment, the privations and sacrifices of our mothers and fathers of this and centuries past. I ask you to imagine our forefathers suffering in bitter snows, in hunger and in passionate hope of true liberty, true dignity and honest and dignified justice for all -- not just the few.
In G'd's name, please allow this veteran to ask you humbly, in an an earnest and subservient petition to pause -- just for a moment -- to consider and give thanks to G'd for this, the most golden opportunity that Mother Gaia provides, to give thanks that our Founders and Framers loved us so much in G'd's name, to craft, create, and hand down our precious Bill of Rights,
My prayer is that you find it equally worth upholding, protecting and defending, against all enemies, foreign and (think carefully about it!) domestic.
In nomine Domine.