Sunday, July 04, 2010

4th of July

Noisy and crowded as it is, I found myself still interested enough to go to the 4th of July parade. What impresses me is the work that goes into such a production. I like to think of all those people getting up this morning and getting ready for the big day. Last minute touches would be put on floats. Mounties and bag pipers would be making the trip from Canada. Fire engines and police cars and ambulances would be cleaned and polished, antique cars brought out of storage. Musical instruments would be tuned, Minnie Mouse, Elmo, and a host of clowns would pull on their hot costumes, load their pockets with candy to throw to the kids along the route. The Shriners would don their fez(es?) and line up their go-carts. The sailors from the ship would put on their sparkling white dress uniforms. Native Americans from Pleasant Point would get out their native costumes and drums. The winners of yesterday's beauty pageants would put on their gowns and tiaras. Members attending various high school reunions (including an Elvis impersonator) would climb up on the backs of trucks and sing songs from the 60's.

The town is decked out with flags and banners and cars line the streets all the way to my house. I walked downtown and stood waiting for almost an hour in front of the gallery. When the police cars' sirens starting blaring and crawled slowly around the corner by the Post Office, signaling the start of the parade, I have to admit I felt yet another stab of love and loyalty to this town. Even through the deafening applause for the sailors and the veterans, I remained uplifted and proud. Even if I don't share that zeal for the military, or the pride in our country, I feel the appropriateness of it on July 4th. I experience a period of suspended disbelief where I overlook the havoc we wreak around the globe, the greed that characterizes capitalism, and the incredible superiority we feel to the rest of the world.

Ceremony is a powerful tool. It's so easy to imagine how it can work people into a frenzy, be it slaughter and sacrifice in the name of religion or allegiance to the fuhrer. Logic, rational thinking, flies away in the face of a flying flag and the sound of a national anthem. We react like Pavlov's dogs. We have been conditioned as children, just as the dogs were. The pledge of allegiance, the Lords prayer.....we recite them as children long before we have any idea what they mean. By the time we understand the words we are saying, our brains are conditioned to salivate..........

Well, it's the way of the world. We are only human. And that is why I love the fourth of July in Eastport.
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