Originally published in July 2003
You can’t get more corn-pone than this: On the Fourth of July, I’ll be walking down a Main Street parade route at the Magic Kingdom, hoisting a gigantic American flag with some 200 other people who have attained the stringent requirement of owning a pair of white sneakers and checking in anywhere over 5”3.
“Wear sunblock,” a co-worker warned me. “That flag isn’t going to protect you much.”
Oh! I thought. Irony! The sheer symbolism! Beneath her words, was she telling me that my political ideals, strong as they were, could never shield me from strife and pain…. or did she mean that patriotism was blinding me from the problems of my country…. or was she implying that we as a nation were hiding behind America’s greatest accomplishments, resting on our laurels when we should be striving forward?
Or perhaps she was merely saying: You are the whitest woman I have ever met; perhaps the palest person in the universe, and without SPF 75 you are going to fry.
Most people with a conscience or the merest glimmer of spirituality have gained a new appreciation for normal life since 9/11. We drive to work in a traffic jam and think, “Isn’t it wonderful that I have a job.” We inhale, feel the strong breath and not the shaking gasps of fear. We automatically slip off our shoes in the airport security line, delayed but not disgruntled. We hurry to pull out of the way for a wailing fire truck, less annoyed, more grateful.
Go ahead and hoist a corn on the cob on me today. Make the cold beer your own and leave the fretting for another day. Inhale. Rest; for sometimes a gigantic American flag is merely a gigantic American flag.