The Fourth of July is almost here again, reminding us of all the freedoms that we enjoy as Americans. We sang the first verse of the National Anthem in church yesterday morning. After all these years, I still have to fight the urge to salute when the first notes begin. But I do stand to attention, put my hand over my heart and sing the words from memory. Our church has a video screen - I imagine most do these days - where the words to songs are projected. While singing, I glanced around the immediate area, noticing some folks singing while looking at the screen. I also noticed a young man with both hands deep in his pants pockets; he looked like he might have been singing although I couldn't tell for sure.
Before I go any further let me be clear about one thing: I AM NOT JUDGING.
For Pete's sake, this is a blog. I have to observe and comment on things. And after all, this is a blog about freedom.
What did I observe from my church's anthem experience? It seems a little weird that there are folks in our country who don't know the proper etiquette and protocol concerning our National Anthem. For review:
- Face the flag
- Salute (for civilians, that's usually the right hand over the heart)
- Sing if you want to (and you should know the words better than Christina Aguilera without looking at a screen)
Look; I'm not always happy with the way things are going in the USA. But the day when things get so bad that I don't sing the national Anthem is the day that I'll be leaving.
Don't worry; I'll complain when it gets cold, too.
Did I mention it is insanely hot, even by Northern Alabama standards? The thermometer above is about right on the money for the past few days. But yesterday I had to man up and bathe the dog. Now, you might say, that doesn't sound so bad. And you'd be right.
It's not the bathing that is bad - it's the hour you have to spend outside drying, grooming and playing with the little bundle of joy that makes you appreciate how nice Heaven will be compared to, well, you know, that other place.
And on earth, that other place is anywhere our armed forces are running around in full camo gear and body armor with a sixty-pound pack. We've lived in the Middle East; we know how hot it is over there.
That puts my whole whining about spending an hour in the sun in shorts and a t-shirt with no one shooting at me sob story right into perspective.
God bless the men and women who keep us free.
In an effort to keep cool Wednesday, I suspect a lot of folks - after eating way too much Bar-b-Que - will be headed to the local Cinerama to catch a movie in the cool, dark confines of a theater near them.
Here's what my marquee will look like this summer...
So what great films are playing right now?
Hmmm, let me see...
1. Top of the hill, grossing over $54 million this weekend is a movie that I'm still stunned was ever produced. I can see the pitch meetings now:
"Guys, it'll be awesome! You see, there's this kid who gets a Teddy Bear - everyone loves their Teddy, right? - and get this: he talks and walks and e'thing! And then the kid and his Teddy grow up and the kid still has his Teddy living with him...just imagine the jokes! I mean, that darn bear is swearing, drinking beer, driving the car, lying when he gets in a wreck, hanging with hot chicks when the kid isn't home...seriously, it's a can't-miss proposition! Oh - and get this - Mark Wahlberg is the kid...I'm telling you, we can't go wrong here..."
2. Following the not so lovable Ted with its own g-string full of bills is Magic Mike, a sensitive, dramatic and funny look (the reviewer's words, not mine) at the world of male strippers.
There's just too much here; and lest folks think I'm being er, sexist, I wouldn't go see this movie if it was about female strippers either.
What other masterpieces can we expect this summer?
As you would expect, there's the usual mix of kid's fair, huge remakes (ahem, excuse me, re-imagining), action epics, blah, blah, blah...
It's not a summer blockbuster but just to show you I'm a big ol' hypocrite, I'll be in line in November to watch Skyfall, the newest James Bond offering. But this summer? Maybe The Dark Knight Rises (although I may wait for the DVD); Total Recall or Dredd? I doubt it. From what I've seen in the previews, TR isn't anywhere as good as Ah-nold's original and I'm just not sure I can appreciate a remake of Judge Dredd without Stallone, Assante, von Sydow or even the surprisingly effective comic relief of Rob Schneider.
What does all this have to do with freedom? There's nothing wrong with spending $50 bucks and taking the family to a terrible movie. After all it's a free country. We all have different tastes, religious beliefs, political opinions and ideas about right and wrong. We all need a little escapism from time to time and I'm not going to sit here and tell you that you're going to that other place just because you liked Ted. That would be judging.
All I'm saying is, "Remember the folks that can't make the movies this weekend because in the (fictional but eerily true) words of Colonel Nathan R. Jessup, 'Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men (and women) with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punch line. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post.'"
This Fourth of July, I know one thing I'll be doing: saying, "Thank you."
What do you think?