Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy 4th of July

I know a little late to the party, but it is still technically the 4th so I'm in under the wire.

Had a good, restful day. Spent time with good friends, eating good food, and generally just hanging out. Which is really what I mean by a restful day yesterday. I had regrets about the general lack of doing anything yesterday late last night and vowed to not let that happen again.

As I sit here typing I hear the random pops of fireworks going off around the neighborhood. I'm not sure that any of them are all that spectacular to watch as the laws in Kentucky are pretty prohibitive. I have doubts that my neighbors went anywhere to get the "good stuff."

I think I'm probably in the last generation that was instilled with a sense of patriotism growing up. Our grandparents were the Greatest Generation having fought in World War II and being the last generation that probably genuinely cared about the country. Some would say it is because it was a simpler time when patriotism and love of country was more generally accepted. The government wasn't as corrupt and cared more about the people. Etcetera etcetera.

I don't believe that for a second. I think the government has always had problems with corruption. It may not have been as out in the open in their generation, but it was there. The advent of first television, then satellite television transmission, computers, and finally the internet have lent themselves to more information getting out faster to more people.

Our parents generation, aka the Baby Boomers, still held onto some of those patriotic ideas, but it was also the first generation where people were aware of the scale of dissension. World War II is probably seen by many as the last war that we were justified participating in. Korea was the beginning of America the police force, not America the defender. Vietnam took that a step further and the backlash from that conflict at home started down the path to where we are today. One could argue the first war in Iraq back in 1991 was somewhat justified because Iraq was the aggressor. However, the current Iraq war, while starting with more public support, took a wrong turn and is now very divisive causing impassioned opinions that haven't been seen since Vietnam.

All this to say that Independence Day, along with the other patriotic holidays, draws a lot of cynicism from the current generation. There are always exceptions to the rule, but by and large this is more a day of cookouts, fireworks, and an extra day off. It is not a day we reflect the cost of freedom for freedom is taken for granted. We've always had it and it is assumed we always will.

I started this by saying I grew up in what is probably the last generation to have a sense of patriotic pride and I have that pride, but even I find cynicism creeping in with the seeming crumbling of the nation around us. A lot of people seem caught off guard by the recession and genuinely surprised by the house of cards our economy has been built on. Not to say I had any special insight, but the longer I've lived the more I've wondered when it was going to happen. We've become too indulgent and too greedy as a nation. Historically when that happens it signals the beginning of the end for the country/empire/civilization involved.

So today I salute the men and women who served to protect us and protect our freedoms. I salute this nation, its principles, and the core ideals it looks to for guidance each day.