Those of us who pay attention to such things are constantly bombarded with the allegation of how racist this country is. Supposedly, no non-white man or woman in today’s society can make it without a hand up or a hand-out. Examples to the contrary are ignored by those making the allegation. And when someone who knows what he’s talking about--who actually lived through real racism and came out on top—who’s actually experienced the horrifying murder of his child at the hands of a racist—has the nerve to explicitly says that the “victims” of today’s “racism” actually have some responsibility in pulling themselves up out of the mire of poverty, the “Soul Patrol,” as Michael King so eloquently refers to the black racialists, is up in arms.
With this state of affairs in mind, I am constantly astonished by love that older black people have for this country. If I walk outside my home, I might see a flag or two flying in front of a house. Generally, there are three types of people here in the hood that will display the flag: Americans of Mexican descent, veterans and black Americans over sixty (in this house, there are people who fit into two of those categories).
For black Americans who’ve experienced explicit racism up close and personal, their love of this country is nothing short of a miracle.
We all know about December 7, 1941. In its wake, nearly the entire adult male population of the USA was mobilized in defense of this country and most of those who were able, answered the call.
As many may have forgotten, the American military wasn’t desegregated until after the end of WWII, under the direction of President Harry S. Truman. So my grandfather and uncles served this nation and did so proudly, when it still legally considered them second-class citizens.
With the exception of my step-father’s father—a crazy, fun, cigar-smoking, whiskey-drinking, gravelly-voiced old coot--all the World War Two vets in my family are gone (Grandpa is retired Air Force, too). I blogged about the one I was closest to here. (I always pick the flimsiest of pretexts to link to that post again. I love that portrait and want to share it all the time. Additionally, I'm constantly reminded of how much I love and miss the man portrayed in it.)
My great-aunt had a boyfriend—before she met and married the man described above--who served as an officer in one of those segregated units. He died in a fire fight on French soil and was buried there for years, until his family brought his body home to rest in the same cemetery as the one in which my great-grandmother’s body is buried.
This country isn’t perfect, but its citizens constantly review its values and its culture. The changes have often been painful, however, the blueprint for change is part of our cultural mindset. That mindset was set in motion upon the founding of this country. I fly a flag proudly on this blog and in front of my home to show my love for that idea and, yes, my pride in having served. The flag in front of the house is so large that my neighbor, who flies a smaller flag in front of his home, jokingly said that he’s got to get a larger one to compete. He’s a black man in his seventies--I’m actually not sure of his age, but I think he’s too young to have been a WWII vet--undoubtedly possessing living memory of having not been allowed to buy the house in which he now lives; and he proudly displays his love of our country. How cool is that?
Those who have actually had to go to separate restrooms—or behind trees—know what real malice looks like. Those who have had shotguns and fire-hoses brandished at them know how much things have changed in this country. Those who have had the bodies of their loved ones turn up mutilated in bodies of water, can hold the rest of us—their younger family members—to a higher standard than they were able to meet. It would be understandable if most of them held a grudge. However, I think that long life has many benefits, the chief of which are being able to observe patterns, having perspective and being able to forgive.