05 July 2005

Happy 229th to these United States

Another beautiful day in Afton. I can't imagine being elsewhere on Independence Day.

The parade goes south on County 21 from city hall to River Road, turns around, and comes back; sort of a 2-for-1 deal. I'm not sure where this quirk came from. Maybe it was a logistical issue, maybe it was to give a break to the spines of those waving from convertibles.

Driving home from a late dinner with friends, a few things came to mind as I reflected on a long, relaxing day:

The political rhetoric employed and cowardly cover run for by those that want a Constitutional ban on flag burning is pretty sad, no matter what allegedly-sincere reason you give. This country is not The Flag. This country is a set of principles and ideas that are merely represented by (among other things) the flag. The flag is a symbol, and a glorious one at that. The problem is that in elevating a symbol to such revered legal status puts us far too close to other societies for which failure to post and respect symbols brought the wrath of the state.

In a few months, a longtime friend of mine will go to Iraq as part of the Minnesota Army National Guard. He's the first person I personally know to be deployed. I hope to be able to forward some of his observations and tales on this site as communication permits I'll be thinking about him every day, and always examining our nation's role in Iraq, and on this planet as the 21st century plows ahead. God speed, Major.

I spent some time at a backyard cookout talking to a great American about the important things in life. He spoke of the joys of attending a predominantly African-American church on Sundays. He spoke about the variety of ethnicity he and his wife encounter in splitting time between Minnesota and Florida. He spoke of working in corporate America in the 50's and 60's and being able to help assimilate people from around the world into a Caucasian, Scandinavian, male, suit-and-tie workplace. He also spoke of looking out the window of his boyhood home in Holland to see Jews filing past with tiny suitcases, no of whom would know freedom again. All these things have in common liberty; the free exercise thereof, the necessity of it's vigorous protection, and the horrors of its loss.

The following quote is from Richard Feynman. Think about it when you see your fellow citizens, especially those who tightly hold elected office, hoist their petty trivialities to center stage, and then do what you can to right the ship of public policy:
No government has the right to decide on the truth of scientific principles, nor to prescribe in any way the character of the questions investigated. Neither may a government determine the aesthetic value of artistic creations, nor limit the forms of literacy or artistic expression. Nor should it pronounce on the validity of economic, historic, religious, or philosophical doctrines. Instead it has a duty to its citizens to maintain the freedom, to let those citizens contribute to the further adventure and the development of the human race.

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