Years ago, when I knew I was home alone and no one would hear me, I would sing in the shower. I sang patriotic songs. The Star Spangled Banner, America the Beautiful, My Country 'tis of Thee. After 9/11 I added in God Bless America as a new favorite.
I have always liked those songs.
I remember once at a Sonics game, the singer was singing the national anthem and the microphone died. It totally brought tears to my eyes when, without missing a beat, the entire stadium joined in and sang the rest of the anthem with the singer we could no longer hear.
Shortly after 9/11, things started to change. Patriotism took on a new meaning. A meaning now associated with exclusion and mistrust; with a holier than though attitude, a 'might is right' philosophy. The wave of violence and fear and stereotyping and racial profiling that spread through this country was appalling. Patriotism and love for country was no longer the pure, 'clean' thing it seemed in the past. It changed.
Patriotism no longer works for me, and that really irks me. In Sydney for the IDBF world championships with mom, the Canadians won about two thirds of the gold medals. Which means we heard their anthem played numerous times. Once, the speakers cut out. Without missing a beat, the Canadians in attendance, along with people from other countries who by now knew that anthem, started singing the song. It was beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes. But when the US supporters started chanting U-S-A later on to cheer on a paddling team during a race, I couldn't join in. It is totally against what I stand for, what I believe. I wanted to support the team and Mom, but I just couldn't yell out that chant without feeling just wrong. And that totally pisses me off.
I didn't wear any USA clothing during the races, don't OWN any USA clothing, wouldn't wear the jacket that mom got for me. I felt bad, but not as bad as I would have felt by actually wearing it. Wearing that stuff no longer is just showing pride for your country, it is being smug and discriminatory and looking down on people and feeling superior.
During Sonics and Seahawks games and other places where they sing the national anthem, I turn my back towards the flag, or at least turn myself sideways away from it. I don't applaud, I don't yell out when the singer inevitably holds out that long note on 'free' at the end of the song. I respectfully stand and listen, but I think about what this stands for and what this country is doing in my name and against my will.
I look forward to the day when a new face is in power in this country. I look forward to the rebuilding of international relations that have all but been destroyed these past 7 years. I look forward to the day when I can once again feel respect and pride for this country, and not just shame for what we do around the world. I look forward to vacationing around the world and not hoping that people assume I am Canadian. I want to be proud to be an American again.
I look forward to singing in the shower again.