Thursday, June 5, 2008

Stars and Stripes Forever

Obama clinched the nomination, and I am stoked. I voted for him in the primary, and I will vote for him in the general election. It is high time this country took direction from a strong Democrat. I've fucking had it with the Bush administration. And I'm not too keen on having another Clinton "back" in office. Regardless, my vote for Obama in the primary was not a vote against anyone. It was a vote for the right candidate. I am as excited for this opportunity to elect a black man to the presidency as I am terrified for his safety. There are a lot of ignorant people out there. If two white boys named Kennedy can be taken down, you can be sure secret service is going to be tight around Obama.

My cousin Joey graduates Army boot camp in a few weeks and will likely ship off sometime this summer. I don't need to tell you where he's going. You know. The thing is, Joey will likely vote for McCain. I can't do that. No...wait. I don't say can't. I WON'T do that. That's better.

Last night the Kindergarten through eighth grade classes held a Spring concert at the kids' school. The auditorium was packed and hot, full of parents and grandparents fanning themselves with pink programs. Halfway through the concert, the principal called a neighborhood kid and newly graduated Marine to the stage. He ships off in a few weeks, and everyone applauded. And since it's a Catholic school and the pastor of the church is used to ripping out random prayers on demand, the Marine received a special blessing, asking for his safety and the protection of him and all the other soldiers. In full uniform, the Marine took off his cap and bowed his head for the blessing.

It was a somber moment on an otherwise vibrant, warm June night. More than 4,000 soldiers have been killed in Iraq, tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians have died, and there is no end in sight to this mess. Gas is four and a half bucks a gallon. Why am I voting for Obama? Because if politicians are politicians no matter how you slice it, I'm at least casting a vote for the one who claims to represent change rather than one who leads a platform committed to the status quo.

After the blessing, the concert resumed, including renditions of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", "Yakkity Yak", and "Georgia". Then the Kindergarteners marched out, a tan and sweaty bunch festooned in red, white and blue sashes and hats, clicking their drumsticks together and stepping in unison to "Stars and Stripes Forever". Sean was so proud to be part of the concert last night. This is a kid who sings "You're a Grand Old Flag" at the top of his lungs in bed at night. A kid who builds jetpacks out of discarded cracker boxes and who has declared he wants to join the Air Force when he graduates high school. He's only six years old.

Maybe the war will be over by then.

This weekend I'll be watching baseball, going to the beach and eating ice cream with the kids. [Side note: I will not be partaking in the Joba Chamberlain canonization, however. Why the Yankees hail him as the Second Coming is beyond me. It's ridiculous. He's just a pitcher. And their worship of him is an insult to other talented players--not to mention it smacks of the way they hailed Clemens, who was never a favorite of mine.]

I am proud to be an American, despite the fact that housing is still pretty unaffordable, and the cost of gas and food continues to skyrocket. I am proud to live in country that can have its Michael Moores and Obamas as well as its Strom Thurmonds and Ronald Reagans. I am proud to live in a country that allows me--a woman--to vote for a black man to lead this country. I will always love to travel, and if I'm lucky enough I'll have an apartment in Rome some day. But I will always be a proud American, committed to my right to vote in the hopes that my own boys will never come home in body bags. But if Sean wants to grow up and join the Air Force, flying planes and working as an engineer, who am I to argue? He is an American as much as me.

For now, though, he is just six and his brother is only four. And we have a summer of hot dogs and popsicles and skateboarding and baseball ahead of us. What is more American than that?


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