I had forgotten how anxious Giaco gets this time of year. Then last night I came home to find my big, brave guardian dog huddled under the porch, whining. In the background was the booming sound of fireworks, set off by folks who just could not wait until July 4th.
My other three dogs don’t like the way the 4th is celebrated either. Last night they were all eager to get in their crates and away from the noise. But Giaco is the one who seems to take this the hardest. He squeezes himself under the porch, shaking. He won’t even come out to eat. He just wants it to be over. You dog people know what I’m talking about. What seems like celebration to some can make others tremble.
This year especially we are recognizing the reality of what true patriotism is about. What one person sees as a “salute to America” parade, others name as an offensive militaristic display and misuse of funds. Yes, count me in the “offended” side of that conversation.
In the meantime, children remain held in concentration camps at our southern border. Those who carry out this racist policy claim there aren’t enough funds for other options. Yet funds can be found for a military parade. As one of my friends put it: “I guess we don’t have to wonder whose freedom we’re supposed to be celebrating.”
I find myself thinking of those children and those families, as from their place of inhumane detention, they hear the sounds of the United States celebrating independence and know in their very bodies how hollow that celebration really is.
So on this patriotic day, I want to call us all back to what it really means to love one’s country.
When President Barack Obama spoke at Senator John McCain’s memorial service, it was at McCain’s invitation. Although they held very different political perspectives, they deeply respected each other’s patriotism. McCain was famous for pushing back on supporters who asserted that Obama was not “American.”
At McCain’s memorial, Obama said this: “John understood that our security and our influence was won not just by our military might, not just by our wealth, not just by our ability to bend others to our will, but from our capacity to inspire others with our adherence to a set of universal values. Like rule of law and human rights and insistence on the god-given dignity of every human being.”
I would add that true patriotism is measured by our willingness to name those places we have fallen short of our aspirations and work toward reparation.
We have a long way to go. But today let us measure our patriotism by our willingness keep working to secure the god-given freedom and dignity of every human being. And tomorrow let’s get back to work on that.