Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
I grew up believing in the American Dream. Not the dream of having a huge car and house and all cutting-edge technologies… not having name brand clothes and gourmet meals.
My idea of this Ideal: having enough. Not having to worry about someone coming to take it from you. Being free to believe in what you believed in without having to die for it; and being free to say what you believed and defend it with words, not your life or that very freedom.
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
When I was old enough, I realized that *our* dream was built at the expense of others’ dreams and freedoms, and my belief and innocence cracked a bit. But there was the hope in my heart that somehow we could redeem ourselves, and give freedom and rights and lands and dreams back to all the oppressed and denied peoples who had been sacrificed to our pursuits of happiness. Somehow, I thought if we cared enough, if we tried hard enough maybe we somehow could – not repair those mistakes, because that’s a road long gone, but – do our best to redeem ourselves, to give back [and then some] to those we’d wronged. Because that’s what we wanted for ourselves – redemption from a life of being someone’s vassal or slave. I mean, wasn’t that what we’d fought for?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
I mean, look at that couplet above – my hope, my innocence is reflected in the positive words that Key chose. He focuses, through EXPLOSIONS that could have been killing off all of the troops below, on the hope portrayed by the flag, still bravely waving in the breeze.
That’s the seduction of the Romance of America. We [well, I, and I think many others] Want To Believe. We want to focus on the good, the true, the patriotic, the heroic… the Dream. And it becomes very easy to look past the negatives around us, the suffering, the ones who had Plymouth Rock land on them, to paraphrase Malcolm X.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
Oh, that IS the question, isn’t it.
Ask the Veteran. Ask the Unemployed. Ask the African-American. Ask the Native American. Ask the Uninsured. Ask the College Students. Ask the Former Home Owners, whose banks who got bailouts, yet still foreclosed on their houses. Ask the Farmers who won’t play with Monsanto. Ask the 99%, and tell me if you don’t get a little scared.
I’m not the “patriotic” type that hangs a flag, says the Pledge of Allegiance, or says things like “These Colors Don’t Run, hurr hurr.” That’s not being a patriot, anyway. That’s being a Nationalist.
What I am is a dreamer, someone who sees the Bad but hopes for [and tries to work for] the Good. I believe that this country CAN live up to what the Pledge asserts – Liberty and Justice for All.
But right now, there are people in charge, people with money and power that enables them to make policy and twist truth into “news” – and they don’t want what I want. They don’t want to share… not the land, nor the wealth, nor the prosperity. And it is showing, across this county, in every city and state.
Is this what we wanted? Is this what you will allow? Don’t we want to be better?
I most desperately want to live in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.
[edited to add] If you want to share this, if it touched you or you agree with it, please do. Just link back here. I want others who feel like I do to know: you are not alone. We *can* change things.