Friday, July 4, 2008

In Memoriam: July 4th 1776

This is a day on which I've honestly avoided blogging.

My grandfather was a vetran of WWII and the Korean War. His military experiences drastically shaped who he was, and left him with injuries that made the last twenty years of his life far more painful than they would have been otherwise. But he loved his country. Both my parents and grandparents, to whom I was blessed to grow up near and dear unto, instilled in me from the very beginning a deep sense of loyalty and patriotism. Born on Flag Day, and blessed in church on the 4th of July, I could recite the pledge of allegiance with perfect diction at three years old. I remember standing on the porch of my grandmother's little single-wide, looking across the tops of the other homes in the trailer park in Brentwood, California, and seeing the red, white and blue fluttering against the deep, clear sky as I held my hand over my heart and said each word. I continued in that same tradition, educating myself on the origins and history of the United States of America, of its government, and on the Founding Fathers. The principles of freedom, the Federalist Papers, and other related topics were all fodder to my love of country, and fueled the fire which strengthened my resolve to speak up, stand out, and lend my support to try to preserve the rights and freedoms initially guaranteed to the American people by the founders.

Then, on October 17th 2006, my country died. The Military Commissions Act was signed into law, amist great newsy fanfare and rejoicing, as was a quieter bill, HR 5122. The Military Commissions Act gutted the bill of rights, removed the protections of the ex post facto clause in the Constitution, and made detaining and torturing US citizens without knowing what they're charged with, or seeing their accuser, perfectly acceptable in the eyes of the law. But HR 5122 was the final straw. Labeled with "Fiscal year 2007" in the title, it appears innocuous enough. However, section 333 abolishes the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, legalizing the use of federal troops for law-enforcement purposes subject to the whim of the executive. While this might seem a boon to over-worked police and sherriff's departments everywhere, especially in a day when natural disasters seem ever more prevalent, it was the last and final move into legal checkmate for the American citizenry. The legislative structure for dictatorship is complete, and mark my words, it will be used.

Much of the culture and traditions I knew and loved as a child are still around . . . I love this land, and many of its people. But the war is over. The Declaration of Independence, celebrated on this day, is now no more than a piece of decaying parchment. The Constitution is dead, buried beneath millions of pages of legal jibberish. I felt so betrayed when I learned about HR 5122. I felt as though I had spent years of my life putting energy into a fight that was simply a sham to keep the masses distracted while the real conflict was lost quietly behind doors marked "Private. Members Only."

Maybe someday there will be a political and cultural reset. A revolution, or war, or depression that effects change significant enough to let us start over. Maybe someday there will be hope again. But not today. Not for me.

I've no stomach for celebrating.