Sunday, July 6, 2008

What's so great about being an American?

This weekend I got to enjoy a big, thick slice of Americana.

My band, The Anvil Blasters, was invited to open the Wheeler County Bluegrass Festival out in Fossil. It was a beautiful setting on the lawn of the venerable Wheeler County Courthouse (1901) and the small-town charm was palpable. We played our brand of Americana folk music (pretty well, if I do say so myself) and earned a warm ovation.

My dad wore his red-white-and-blue rodeo shirt and a red-white-and-blue ball cap and he grinned like a little kid as we drove through the corridor of flags in Redmond.

It was a day when it felt good to be an American.

Some of my leftward-leaning friends are uncomfortable with overt displays of patriotism. They feel bludgeoned by the flag, force-fed a diet of simplistic "my country, right or wrong" mentality. I can understand that. I don't take too well to "love it or leave it" patriotism that brooks no criticism or dissent.

But that's no reason to reject the symbol. It's all the greater reason to hoist the banner high.

It's our flag — all of us, right, left, center, whatever our color, whatever our creed. It is a beautiful symbol and it stands for genuinely magnificent principles of justice and liberty.

It stands for a nation that has contributed mightily to the betterment of mankind in every field of endeavor — medicine, jurisprudence, art, sport, science...

To get to Fossil, we drove through magnificent American countryside, so beautiful it made us gasp with wonder. We met some fine folks and enjoyed music that is America's gift to the world, grown out of seeds imported from the British Isles, grown into something vibrant and new in America.

Back in Sisters, folks were playing the blues, another American art form with roots stretching from Africa through a painful journey from the American South through Chicago and branching out into the world as one of our most powerful cultural exports. Volunteers were preparing to celebrate the American folk art tradition of quilting and folks were hunting for treasures at the Gem Show — treasures found in the American landscape.

We were celebrating all that is this magnificent, turbulent nation. America the Beautiful. you make me proud.

Jim Cornelius, Editor

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