The Bean's school (which I should note, before I get ranting, that I really love) had a Flag Day ceremony this morning for grades K-4. Everyone was decked out in red, white and blue. There was an impressive performance by a local equestrian team (with horses in red, white and blue socks!), short addresses by our State Representative and one of our town Selectmen, children reading their essays and poems ("What The Flag Means To Me,") and singing songs.
So, a relatively big deal, as in-school events go. At least one newspaper photographer was there.
Oh, but parents? Weren't invited. The Bean had mentioned that there would be some Flag Day-related activity this week, but I only became aware of the date, time and scale (horses! elected officials! press!) of this specific event because I happened to be there yesterday helping with something else. I almost didn't go to see it this morning, but was driving by the school entrance at just the right moment, so figured what the hey. It makes the Bean really happy when I go to school stuff.
And: I love my country -- truly, I do. But if this proud American never hears Toby Keith singing that Lee Greenwood "Proud to be an American" tune again, it'll be too soon. Playing on the loudspeaker as the kids came out and got seated? Toby Keith singing "Proud to be an American!" Music to which the equestrian team performed their routine? Toby Keith singing "Proud to be an American!" Tune the music teacher chose to blare while the children supposedly sang along? "Proud to be an American!"
(Reading a close second on my vapid-country-music-annoy-o-meter (calibrated for patriotism) is "American Child" by Phil Vassar. Does nobody appreciate the irony of a heterosexual white male baby boomer crooning about how in America, "anyone's equal"? Really? No, really?)
Can't we do better than that? Think of the age-appropriate, relevant, reverent, beautiful, classic patriotic songs they didn't sing: America The Beautiful. My Country, 'Tis of Thee. This Land is Your Land. Maybe there aren't prefab CDs of other kids singing these songs already. Based on my (admittedly limited, possibly unfair) observation of our early music program, that seems to be a prerequisite. Canned music gets played, the kids sing along, or don't. Meh.
The highlight of the Selectman's speech was when he asked the kids how they thought the flag might have been different when he was in school. A child raised her hand: "Were the stars still all in a circle back then?" Heh.
Something in our State Representative's little address made me uneasy. He was talking about what the flag makes him think of, which is all well and good, if to my ear a bit heavy on the sacrifice-of-military-families theme for an elementary school audience. Evidently however, one of the things it makes him think of is how the children of today are going to (among other things) wear the military uniforms of tomorrow. Frankly, this gave me the creeps. My daughter is SIX. Leave her the hell alone.
But who am I to say. After all, I wasn't even invited to the thing in the first place.