The Fourth of July is here. And with it comes a lot of mixed emotions.
I was raised in American nationalism all through my life into my early 20s. I grew up with my life being shaped by 9/11, and the wave of American pride and nationalism that came after it. I watched my father follow closely on a map as the US “stomped out terrorists” in the middle east. And I listened as the members of my church praised the US for being a beacon of freedom to the world.
A typic Sunday around the 4th of July or Memorial Day would have multiple songs and special music centered around patriotic themes. I can remember singing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “America the Beautiful,” “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” and “Faith of Our Fathers” all being sung as worship songs during the service. The Veterans of the church would be asked to stand for a standing ovation as each branch of the military was called out from the pulpit. The American flag was proudly displayed on the preacher’s right side with the Christian flag on the left.
I learn in boy scouts how to properly respect the flag. And perform formal ceremonies to respectfully retire the American flag. I pledged an oath at every meeting “to do my duty to God and my country.” During my summers I listened to long lectures at scout camp about the respect that I owed to my country.
My history books ripped out the worse parts of the US’ history. And praised the US for it’s godly influence on the world. Ignoring any harm that the US may have caused. See my blog post on Abeka History for a sneak peak into that.
But so much of that praise and worship seems to be propping up a false image of America. I’ve been having to come to grips with the true nature of America and the violence and pain in our history. It doesn’t take long to realize America is the “land of the free” for everyone here. And “liberty and justice for all” is more of concept then actual reality.
In recent news in the US, a unarmed black man was shot 60 times by police. A ten year old girl was denied an abortion by the state she lived in. And the police watched on as white nationalists took to the streets of Boston. This is all just within the last few days.
As for my immediate area I just visited White Rock, a local landmark were the Territory of Michigan set a treaty boundary with the local tribes. The Detroit treaty was made in 1807, but did not last long. And the land marked by White Rock was acquired by the Territory of Michigan in 1819 by the Saginaw Treaty. Land that was promised to local tribal nations, my Grandparents now live on.
American history is far from perfect. And even now America is not a completely just and free society. There are many people who are still being wronged by the United States. This Forth of July I’m planning to opt out the celebration and fireworks and just sit with that for a bit.