One Country

“Over hill, over dale, as we hit the dusty trail…”

I can’t remember a time when my husband didn’t like discussing politics. Even at 16, he and his best friend would incessantly “converse” about an issue, its counterpoint, its counter-counterpoint; ad naseum.

“Stand navy, out to sea; fight our battle cry…”

Driving in the car together at 19 years young, we would occasionally listen to AM Talk Radio. Callers to the program voiced something, anything; and inevitably got cut off by Rush Limbaugh yelling. I had never seen the man; yet saw his red face, smelt his heated breath, and felt his spewing spittle.

“From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli; we fight our country’s battles in the air, on land and sea”

The introduction of social media, overall, lent a paper-thin mask to that same sort of angry vitriol I heard over a decade before. In our 30s, now, I see good people typing political observations they’d never say to their own mothers.

“From north and south and east and west, the coast guard’s in the fight…”

My own “news”feed is often split down the middle. One man literally wrote that anyone approving the separation of children from parents is a piece of shit; a relative, meanwhile, pointed out that children are being used as free tickets into the U. S. of A. I get the feeling my “friends” would start a nuclear meltdown if accidentally mixed in the same chamber.

“Off we go, into the wild blue yonder -climbing high into the sun!”

A person in the military standing next to their boots and backpack on a sidewalk

This past Sunday morning our family watched the live feed of The Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing from their tour in California. Theirs was a patriotic program to honor our nation’s birthday, today. Anthems played, singers sung. I typed, using it all as pleasant background music. Then, the choir began singing each song of the various armed forces. I looked up.

“Then its Hi! Hi! Hee! in the field artillery, shout out your numbers loud and strong!”

Apparently, representatives of the various armed forces were attending the concert. The front rows of folding chairs held uniformed members -but they weren’t sitting. As was standard, each was standing in respect. Each man or woman in smart, white shirt and tie was at the appropriate attention.

“…First we fight for rights and freedom, and to keep our honor clean…”

Most were smiling broadly. All were singing. The camera panned over the crowd and I saw happy, proud people raising their voices together with the choir and band. I was struck by exactly what it meant to dress a certain way and take a certain oath and stand when expected and mouth the same words: Unison.

“Sail on to victory and sing their bones to Davy Jones, hooray!”

Uniformity is often said like it’s a bad word, a disgusting one. A That’s it, young lady, we’re washing your mouth out! word. Instead, I saw it for the word it really wants to be: teamwork, unity, cooperation, selflessness, union, LOVE.

“We live in fame or go down in flame…”

Thank you, Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Thank you more, proud members of the fighting forces in attendance. Thank you all for feeling so strongly that I couldn’t help but cry in response.

One nation. That’s what we are, and the goal we always need.

 

 

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