Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Veterans Day

I went to Catholic schools for ten years. Right after daily Mass we would line up for assembly and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by prayers and announcements. Sometimes we would sing the National Anthem. Devotion to country was placed right after devotion to God. Maybe that's why I choke up when I sing the Star Spangled Banner and blink through tears when I think about the sacrifices that have bought my freedom to be complacent. Like the sacrifice that bought my hope for entry into heaven.

My jaw drops when I encounter people who were born and educated in this country who do not know the Pledge of Allegiance or the National Anthem. They are so entwined with the Sign of the Cross and the Our Father in my psyche, that I cannot comprehend the level of ignorance and arrogance this represents. My five year old son recites the Pledge, the Sign of the Cross and Our Father daily. He sings his own rendition of Star Spangled, which inexplicitly contains some reference to "Obama's red light". He is homeschooled. It seems to me that now that we've taken God out of our public schools, our devotion to our country is failing as well. On that point I am glad to be proved wrong.

The American Legion Post is the hub of activity in our small town. This year they organized our 1st Annual Veteran's Day parade. While bigger cities were closing off main thoroughfares for large, well attended events, our boys lined the town's two one-way streets with American Flags, then lined up at the Legion for the trek around town. Our vets led the parade, proudly carrying the flags, followed by the high school cheerleading squad, the historical society and the county sheriff. The only thing missing was the high school band, but that's because we don't currently have one. The country folk drove in and honked and hooted as the parade passed by, and the town people stood in their front yards waving and cheering. Children delighted in the candy thrown by the Historical Society and the Sheriff. Afterwards, everyone gathered at the Post for coffee and donuts.

The great thing about a small town is that when we get together for something like this, prejudices and fueds fall away in the interest of something bigger. It doesn't take a natural disaster to bring people together and nurture unity - if only we would do this more often.

Our little Catholic mission is also planning some public processions for the Christmas season. Sometimes it seems like we're two factions - the whites and the hispanics. But when we come together, to process around town, singing and carrying the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12th, we will be united. We will celebrate the Mass and share a dinner in the hall. We will watch the children reenact the scene with Our Lady and Juan Diego. We will be one church - if only we would do this more often...

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