03 July 2010

my patriotism

My family laughs at me because I cry at two things {and, for the most part, just these two things}:  sports movies and patriotism.

I do have emotions.  I do get upset and sad and hurt and disappointed and angry and frustrated; I do also have all the positive emotions.

But I don't cry too often in reaction to all those emotions.  Or to express those emotions.  Please stop looking at me like I'm Data from Star Trek.

Now please stop looking at me like that because I just revealed I'm a Trekkie.

Sometimes, I have to force myself to cry {because even when you don't cry all that much, you do come to a point where crying is a necessity, like water:  an obvious statement}.  

To get the tears to come, I watch Rudy.  The football movie.  The one about the underdog triumphing and getting to play in a Notre Dame game.  The one where the entire stadium starts chanting, "Rudy!  Rudy!  Rudy!" as he runs onto the field.

Even writing that makes me a little teary.  I said a little.

Patriotism will also make me cry, a trait I developed after living in Europe.  I've always liked America:  let me stress that.  But living away from here, away from Iowa, away from my family, away from belonging changed me into someone who has to breathe very deeply and concentrate very hard on not crying when that song "Proud to Be an American" plays.

I know.  

Schmaltzy patriotism gets me just as much as "Stars and Stripes Forever" or Judy Garland singing "God Bless America."  

I get the same amount of quivering tears for the "Armed Forces Salute" as I do for that Toby Keith song that talks about the Statue of Liberty shakin' her fist.

I wish I didn't react like that to Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue"; nothing in his song lines up with my version of America, which is what makes it so puzzling for me, these tears reacting to his ethnocentric anger.

Let's pretend from now on they're tears of sadness at his ugly American attitude and his belief that fighting is the best thing America offers the rest of the world.  Let's move on from his American way.

The Fourth of July is my favorite holiday.

Every year I can, I spend it in Morning Sun, Iowa, where my mama grew up and where my grandma and some other family still live.

My version of America is wrapped up in Morning Sun--in the name that sounds like aprons and cross-stitching and victory gardens and a strong belief in "Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise."

My version of America is hard work and community--and getting together to celebrate that hard work with good food.

It's tradition and small talk, as well as being in a place with roads like School Street and Church Street {because that's what's on those streets}.

My version of America is about belonging and being known, and it's that version of--and vision for--America that'll make me cry.

Just a little.

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