Friday, July 2, 2010

Come, the New Jerusalem

I've made an amazing discovery as I slog through what I thought was the last work day before the Fourth of July holiday. It turns out, for many of us, yesterday was that day and today is Day One of a three-day holiday weekend that is now four days long, maybe more if you use the metric system. Sorry, didn't mean to get all mathy on you there.

I'm not sure how many of the 1.1 million plus active-duty military folks (as of March) have today off, or any portion of this three-to-seventeen day holiday weekend the rest of us are chillin' and grillin' about. I'm not positive many, or any, of the million and a half or so reservists are kicking it old school right now and I suspect the same can be said for the many shapes and shades of National Guard.

Speaking of which, about the topic of Hurricane Katrina and the hell on earth that it wrought, of which I rambled just yesterday-I came across a news story about a native of New Orleans who's a Guardsman, (not that kind, this kind) spending the holiday in the tropics, where he's not working on his tan. I don't think any of us would begrudge Mike Larey some free time, but he won't get it and knows he cannot miss what he doesn't have. Think of him as food for thought (ouch!) when you're cranked later today because the butcher can't custom cut those steaks you 'need' for the Sunday cook-out.

If you've noticed the US flag is half-mast. It's in honor of Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, who was elected to nine terms in the United States Senate, a body whose members, along with those of the House of Representatives, the Office of the President of the United States, the members of the Supreme Court and tens, if not hundreds of thousands, of elected and appointed officials across this country show up everyday to push the rock up the hill a little farther and a bit further than they did the day before despite the record number of us, present company included, who blame them for all manner of sins, omission and commission and injuries, real and imagined, without ever bothering to thank them.

When you get down to it, we are all each of us has and we've been giving each other some bruises and shiners lately, seemingly for the sport of it all. We've become so enamored with the Search for the Guilty and its cry of triumph, "GOTCHA!" we sometimes no longer seem to want to try to make things better so much as to be able to blame someone else when, not if, it all goes South.

If you think times are rough now, fire up the WABAC machine and visit Philadelphia in the summer of 1776. No Iverson, no Fightin' Phils, no Geator with the Heater -their Sam Adams had much thicker neck than the one some are drinking today. There was a sense of unease among the gentlemen farmers, merchants and others, all so white they glowed in the dark, as they penned their "Dear George" listing of grievances to His Far Off Majesty, the most powerful man on the planet at that time, all too aware of what happens when you swim until you can't see land but believing in their cause and in one another. (Helps explain the turtlenecks, I guess.)

It wasn't the easiest thing they could have done, but once decided, unanimously, they set off together down their own path and two hundred and thirty four years on, we're still putting one foot in front of the other even if sometimes the direction is a little less clear than we'd like. It hasn't changed all that much since we started nor gotten any easier, come to think of it.

If nothing else, our history should tell us whatever lies ahead for each and all of us, our families, neighbors and nation, we can rise above and continue to be the people that all others on this earth look to as Their Last Best Hope. This Fourth of July, not because we want to, but more because we need to, Let the River Run, Let all the dreamers wake the nation. Come, the New Jerusalem. Yes, We Are, because Yes We Must. Happy Birthday, America!
-bill kenny

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