Monday, May 30, 2011
In observance of Memorial Day I decided to take a whole week off. Why limit my BBQing, flag waving, and lawn sprucing to a single weekend?
We Americans sometimes assume everyone is working on our wavelength. Yesterday, one of our relatives living abroad called the house and was surprised when not one, but three people answered the phone. "Well it is a holiday weekend, Memorial Day," I reminded. Truly, he had forgotten. Living abroad can do that to a person. After a while, it's only natural to adopt the rhythms of a foreign country.
I've had the good fortune to travel abroad and sample other cultures. Love the change of pace, can't tolerate the adjustment. As a tourist, I can't wait to explore, experience, and sample. As a prospective immigrant, I doubt I could ever assimilate. I'm just too American.
"What does that mean?" I was once asked. "What culture is there in America? America is nothing more than shopping malls, McDonalds, and Hollywood." Boy did that person ever get it wrong.
Sure. There's all the regular cliches. Purple mountains majesty, Mom, and apple pie. Baseball, football, professional golf, bowling, and poker. Girls and boys next door, first proms, homecoming, and drive-in movies. But then there's the pulse of America, the little nuances I hold dear. It's wide open spaces, neighbors helping neighbors, charitable outreach, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, the Tournament of Roses and Macy's Thanksgiving Day parades, patriotic soldiers who fought and died for our right to be free, and so much more.
Today we honor those brave men and women, people who made the ultimate sacrifice so that their fellow Americans could continue this experiment in democracy. We may be slogging through tough economic times, but Americans are resilient. We bounce back. We always have.
My personal tribute to Memorial Day is a short list of cultural identifiers that make America great:
The Bill of Rights
Film, Music, and Ethnic Festivals
The Great White Way
Martin Luther King
Neighborhood Block Parties
Fully Stocked Supermarkets
Brown v. Board of Education
Checks and Balances
Bald Eagles and Buffalo
Animal Shelters and Refuges
Stars and Stripes
The Star Spangled Banner
Olympic Super Heroes
Land from Sea to Shining Sea
Arlington National Cemetery
Happy Memorial Day, to everyone, everywhere.