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Friday, May 7, 2010

Patriotism is not a crime (at least not yet)

Did you hear about the students who were expelled from school for wearing American flag tee shirts on Cinco de Mayo?  It happened yesterday in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Four Live Oak High School teens sent home for wearing American flag T-shirts on Cinco de Mayo have become the focus of national media attention and spurred a march by Hispanic students through downtown Morgan Hill.

Live Oak students Daniel Galli, Dominic Maciel, Matt Dariano and Austin Carvalho wore red, white and blue T-shirts - some with the American flag and some with flag shorts - to school Wednesday, prompting administrators to ask the students to change their clothing or turn their T-shirts inside-out because it could incite a confrontation on Cinco de Mayo. The four students' parents were called into a conference with Assistant Principal Miguel Rodriguez and Principal Nick Boden, who sent the students home with an unexcused absence - not a suspension

How have we become so mis-educated? (Yes, I said mis-educated)? When did it start becoming so uncool to be American? Growing up in the 60s and 70s I had a unvarnished view of my country as being the "land of free and home of brave". We celebrated "Riverview Days" during the first week of July which always culminated in a (somewhat anticlimactic) fireworks display launched over Reflection Pond (clever name, eh - you cannot fault Riverviewans for being overly creative). but it was beooootiful. This predates modern pyrotechnics by about 2 decades. We decorated our bicycles and little red wagons with red white and blue crepe streamers and balloons.  The wagons were made of aluminum then and were called Red Ryders. We held parades and had a Mrs. Riverview Contest (mom won!).  One year my brother Brian played The Star Spangled Banner on his Trumpet for the official opening to "Young Patriots Park".  I held the music. There's a rather embarrassing picture of this floating around somewhere.  We celebrated our nation.  We celebrated our One-ness.  We were happy being Americans and I didn't really know anyone at that time introducing themselves as an __-American.  There were not _______Americans.  Only Americans.  I know that this post will be positively upsetting to those who might be very attached to those ___________American titles.  The point,or rather, the question I would like to ask is where has American culture gone?  Has it disappeared or just taken a back seat to more PC persuasions. What are the things that define American culture and why might it be important to hold on to them? This is a massive question that I would like to start taking a little more seriously within the month ahead of us. I do not disparage the great ethnic heritages that are woven into the fabric of this country.  I'm mostly wondering if we are an E Pluribus Unum still or a Unum Pluribus E??  A quilt with lots of patches or a blanket with more homogenous threadwork. It is important to determine how cultures ebb and flow, stay or go.

Especially if we're considering expelling kids for the clothes that they wear.


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