Independence Day, a baseball game, and fireworks in the age of Donald Trump

I wanted to enjoy the Colorado Rockies game and fireworks on Independence Day, but in the age of Donald, I got cognitive dissonance instead.

Independence Day was uncomfortable this year. I was sitting at a Colorado Rockies game with my family and brother-in-law during the seventh inning stretch when a US Army soloist sang God Bless America. While I ultimately decided to stand in order to honor the soldier singing it, as I stood there I had a very uncomfortable realization. I realized that I’d heard Coors Field honor the US armed forces at least four other times over the course of the game. Something felt wrong about that somehow.

And then, during the post-game fireworks, I found myself feeling like the fireworks set to song were less a patriotic celebration of our Independence Day and more a nationalistic or even jingoistic catharsis.

Independence Day is the day the colonies declared our independence from Britain. In many ways it signifies the birth of the United States of America (the crafting of the Constitution in 1789 would be the other defining moment). Clearly, our independence was won by force of arms during the Revolutionary War, so honoring our military and singing patriotic songs is hardly out of place for the holiday. But there was something different this time. I’ve been thinking about this ever since, and I think I’ve figured out what was different this year: me. Continue reading

Another Fourth, another episode of blissful national blindness

No red, white, and blue adorn my flagpole. No patriotic bunting arches over my front door. No fireworks await their flaming demise. I no longer enjoy the nation’s formal parting from Great Britain (which was on July 2, anyway).

2f45d-free_wallpaper_patriotic_eagle_american_flag_background-1-1024x768I suppose, at one time, July Fourth carried great meaning to all Americans. After all, because of the acts of the Continental Congress and subsequent versions of it, I can (and do) criticize my government without fear or favor. I can own a weapon. My home and person cannot be searched or seized without cause. I am not obligated to incriminate myself. I can practice the religion of my choice — or decide not to — without government coercion. I can peaceably assemble with others to protest almost any damn thing I want to. I can vote to select who will govern me. And Congress cannot prevent me from owning a press in which I tell others what I see and what I know and what I feel.

I love my country because of the ideals inherent in the Constitution and especially in the Bill of Rights.

But lately, I have come to dislike this overwrought holiday. Continue reading

What the rockets' red glare wrought one July 4th holiday

A 20-year anniversary slips by unnoticed.

July 3 marked 20 years since the USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air Flight 655. All 290 passengers aboard, including 66 children, were killed. In the intervening years have any extenuating circumstances surfaced to excuses this colossal blunder?

Let’s revisit the Iran-Iraq war, when Iran routinely attacked Kuwaiti ships and tankers. To protect them and other neutral shipping in the Persian Gulf, in the spring of 1988 the U.S. increased its naval presence in the Persian Gulf. Among the ships deployed was the Vincennes, a guided missile cruiser. Equipped with the new Aegis weapon system of computers and radar, it was tasked with detecting enemy aircraft. Continue reading