Okay, people. It’s Fourth of July Eve and we’re going there.
Recently I was chatting with a friend about contemplating hanging American flags out front of our homes for summer. “But you know, I don’t want anyone thinking I’m a Trump supporter,” she remarked. And yeah, I get it. I have to admit — I HATE to admit, but I have to — that I had had the same thought. In that one isolated, small-talk moment neighbor-to-neighbor a huge piece of this big old messy puzzle of a political climate came right out and showed me my own flawed thinking.
I have been letting these “‘Murica” members of Cult 45 keep the flag, let it symbolize their position instead of what it really should. And I realized I am done. Done! I am no longer okay with the fact that the supporters of this man who hides behind those stars and those stripes, wrapping his cruel actions up in bastardizations of the Christian Bible, all while tearing apart what our amazing country is and could be — have claimed that flag as their own.
I get it. We’re all Americans. You’re here, I’m here, we’re blessed and all the rest of it. But this isn’t just your country — it’s mine freaking too. And I’m not going to lose my patriotic heart just because the guy you elected is driving this country to shit all while setting us up to be the most hated nation on the planet.
Here’s the thing: the Fourth of July has always been my favorite holiday. As a child, I often spent it with my grandparents. I remember sandy beaches and sunsets, everyone happy, dressed up in that red, white, and blue. Country music and the salty smell of the sea wafting through the air. Neighbors clinking beers with neighbors, kids staying up late, the magic of fireworks.
But even then I knew. It wasn’t about the barbecues or the sparkling lights, though I loved all of that. I can remember as young as about five years old feeling so damn lucky and proud of this country. Eyes filling with tears when I thought about what America meant to me. A country where my ancestors escaped the horrors of the Holocaust and rebuilt a life from scratch in Brooklyn. A country where, as a girl, I would be free to grow up and do whatever I damn well pleased (well, not make as much money for any job as my brothers would, but I didn’t know about that part yet!). A country I was proud to call home.
And I still am proud. In spite of it all, I’m proud. Or maybe because of it all. Who knows?
I’m proud of the football players taking a knee in silent, respectful protest of a country where people of color are not given the same opportunities as the rest of us. (You know, opportunities like making it through a routine traffic stop alive. That kinda thing).
I’m proud of little girls setting up lemonade stands to send money to refugee families. Big brands like Target and Bloomingdales waving rainbow flags proudly. Mothers and fathers in every pocket of this beautiful land accepting and loving their kids who are different.
This is something that might interest you if you are not yet aware of it! It is possible to appreciate and support our troops without liking the president. It is possible to love and honor this great nation despite the horrible things happening in it.
I am no longer going to sit back and let y’all think you own that flag. You don’t. This is still my country and that is still my flag. And tomorrow night I will tear up like I always do on the Fourth, looking forward and backward at the same time. Wishing (truly, truly) for LIFE, LIBERTY, and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS for every soul on this soil.
We don’t walk out on a child who’s going through a hard period, and I wouldn’t do so with my spouse or a family member either. America, you’re in rough shape right now, but I’m with you girl. I’m not leaving. I truly believe that it is in the darkest moments that we need to exhibit the most strength, the most love.
So tomorrow I will wave my flag, dress in my country’s colors, and read my girls bedtime stories about amazing Americans. Change is coming. We can’t give up now, guys. Wave that flag. More proudly than ever, if you can.