Which entry in the Independence Day parade got the most applause this morning?
Was it the firefighters in their death defying aerial acrobatics on tall ladders held aloft by opposing tension of ropes held by other firefighters on the ground, as they balanced in the blue sunny sky to unfurl their brilliant red, white, and blue flags to the cool breeze? Well, yes, okay, it was. They were their usual annual amazing show of daring, skill, and patriotism, and the crowd loved them.
But what drew the second largest applause from the audience lining each side of the street? It was the man carrying a sign that read "This war is not the answer." Everyone, store owners, business owners, office workers, construction workers, farmers, ranchers, students, retired people, all were united in their frustration with this too-long war and the ever-changing morphing slip-sliding reasons we have been given for getting into it and still being in it. Some years on 4th of July as we watch our parades and eat our barbeque chicken and corn and watch our softball games and our fireworks, we are proud of our nation. We used to be proud to be the nation who came to the aid of others in need, who found better means than war to get things done, who was too proud and ethical to use torture, who valued our constitution and the rights of our own people. Now we hang our heads in shame a little as a war we started drags on, as our privacy and other rights have been eroded in the name of preventing 'terror', as we are too distracted and war-impoverished to notice the starving and thirsty around the world.
The mass of those dissatisfied with this war grows, and that will be expressed in how we vote, and that perhaps can get our nation back on track so that what unites us in future patriotic gatherings is again pride and optimism.