On the occasion of my 1,000th post (I can't believe it either; I hope at least some of them have been interesting), I'd like to muse a bit on what July 4th means to me and hopefully to you also.
Aside from the obligatory fireworks and outdoor summer stuff, it is a time for commemoration of our flag (which, by the way, is a symbol of such strength that it doesn't need to be propped up by an anti-desecration amendment to the Constitution) as well as contemplation of the ideals which support our democratic republic. Among those ideals are tolerance, forgiveness, and trying to build bridges to those who may hate you.
(One of my favorite films, by the way, is the version of "The Razor's Edge" with Bill Murray made in the mid '80s, which opens with wonderful images of a July 4th picnic that turn out to be elegiac given the irreparable changes that the four main characters undergo, Larry Darrell in particular, brought on in no small part by World War I.)
In this spirit - joyful summer exuberance tinged with melancholy reflection - I have to mention that Cindy Sheehan and Michael Berg have been on my mind a bit lately, and I have a message for them (assuming they ever read this post, which I admit is unlikely).
In much the same way that President Lincoln would reflect back on the Battle of Gettysburg in November, 1863 (the battle itself took place over three days 143 years ago, and on July 4th, Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia were in full retreat, having lost the battle partly as a result of the suicidal Pickett's Charge - the Confederates were also losing Vicksburg, MI at about the same time, tilting the Civil War irreparably in the favor of the Union Army), I would like to see Sheehan and Berg reflect on the terrible tragedies in their lives that have unwittingly thrust them into the spotlight and reach out to our service people to a greater degree than they ever have before.
And by the way, I'm not talking about appearing on any more "barking head" gab fests so Berg can be verbally assaulted by "Falafel" O'Reilly again or Sheehan can be called names by Faux News and its acolytes. I mean requesting time to speak at VFW meetings and gatherings of service people and stating their case, engaging and a give-and-take with veterans who may disagree with them as part of the process of (hopefully) reaching a mutual understanding.
I don't see evidence that they're doing this (perhaps I'm missing it online, but I don't think so - I'd like to be notified if I'm wrong about that). I see them supporting like-minded brethren in their opposition to the war, a right which certainly belongs to them that they've earned through terrible tragedy. However, in much the same way that Lincoln reached out to the South in the Gettysburg Address (paying tribute to those in both armies who spent the "last full measure" to achieve "a new birth of freedom"), I would like to see Sheehan and Berg reach out to those who oppose them by stressing that we are all Americans, regardless of the color of our state or the flavor of our politics.
I realize that Sheehan and Berg owe me absolutely nothing, but if they were to undertake the effort I just described, it would show a particular level of courage and leadership that would underscore the fact that they're trying to collectively enhance the intellectual strength of our nation through the free exchange of ideas as part of the dialogue which is so necessary if our country is to continue, and thus see many more July 4th celebrations recognizing the endurance of the freedom we cherish.