Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Demise Of Patriotism

Probably my most favorite classical piece of all time is Tchaikovsky's Overture 1812, which in retrospect seems at odds with my personal feelings about Russia or, more specifically, the Soviet Union. Tonight, seeking a brief respite from the world and politics, I decided to don the headphones and get lost in music, and the 1812 was one of my choices. As fate would have it, listening elicited thoughts which I needed to share.

I have long been aware of the significance of Tchaikovsky's 1812, but my love for the bare emotion of the piece has always been one of peripheral and generic appreciation for the brilliance of a mind that could create the glory of war and country with musical notes, combined into a magnificent tapestry of sound. Listening tonight, however, I achieved a cognizance that skirted my awareness before. For all of my past loathings of the Soviet empire, they did share one common thread with us, their mortal enemy; they loved their country with a pride that seems an alien emotion today.

Perhaps my epiphany can be attributed to the particular version of the Overture 1812 I listened to tonight, since I have never heard it performed with a choir of human voices. Hearing the singing mixed with strings and horns made me think of the movie Hunt For Red October when the crew broke into a spontaneous rendition of the Soviet Anthem. Their breast-bursting devotion to country was touching despite the nature of that particular beast, and it bears mentioning that at least the animosity of those days was contained within boundaries that today have evaporated.

But I do not write this to compare the current rules of engagement for our military to those of days of yore, although that may well be a discussion on the horizon, and part of what I have to say does indeed affect the sad state of affairs for our current soldiers. It is the dissolution of our spirit as Americans that has me troubled.

Many of us who have remained silent for generations as our world crumbled around us use the excuse of having been too busy building the nation into what it is to become involved with the urchins who take to the streets to attempt to tear it down. That excuse has been a valid one, make no mistake, but it has expired only because we assumed that our success would draw others into its wake. The few who slipped over the side of the rooster tail and floundered at sea have been busy multiplying and have formed a coalition of the "disenfranchised", and they have found it easier to develop into a powerful, plaintive lobby than to actually work harder to get ahead.

Thus it became fashionable to rally against the nation that made such a practice possible in the first place, and what have the plaintiffs accomplished? Nothing short of the steady decline and possible destruction of the greatest nation ever to grace the Earth.

The thought of national pride on even a small scale has been made into the act of radicals, to hear the networks tell it. The officials we elect, and who swear an oath to uphold our Constitution, work overtime instead to return our system to that which we fled to conceive America. Sovereignty is now considered xenophobia and pride ruled as dirty. I can't even smack the hat off of some idiot at a sporting event who neglected to remove it for the Star Spangled Banner. Most have lost their way.

There is hope, however. Whenever I see the Tea Parties in action, I think of millions of citizens who proudly sing the national anthem, even unabashedly in poor tune. I think of patriots who truly love their country not out of fear of the State, but out of confidence of control of that entity. I see people who have not let the fire die in the dead of night, who have remained vigilant with kindling to keep the others warm until morning.

And I see the dawn approaching. REM sleep is slowly fading as the slumbering begin to scratch itchy noses and fuss with the covers. As dark slowly yields to day, and the smoke thickens from a lovingly tendered fire, Americans are beginning to rouse from sleep.

A morning tribute to Francis Scott Key would be magnificent right about now. Then coffee...

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Edisto Joe said...

Love that overture. Don't forget, at the time it was written, Russia was controlled by Tsars and were Christian God fearing people. They called upon that faith during thier time of peril. Tchaikovsky brought out the pride, patriotism,and joy of the Russian people from the defeat of Napoleon and the French. The Russian winter did them in as it did to Hitler in the 20th Century. Sadly, many in our country believe it refers to our war of 1812 or relate to it as the music for the cearal "Puffed Wheat",(shot from cannons). I get a thrill every time I hear the bells ringing and the cannon sounding in the background. It inspires patriotism no matter what country your from. It's a shame that we only dust off our patriotic songs at the 4th of July but what do you expect from a country that places the right of a student to sit during the Pledge Of Alligence in school or would let the ACLU tear down a memorial cross on government land that honors the fallen during WWII. You're right about the demise of patriotism and much of it, if not all of it, can be attributed to he way we teach history in our liberal, government funded, educational system.


Woody said...

The bells signify the triumphant march through Red Square after the French defeat, very moving.

It is just a shame that we only exhibit our patriotism after a tragedy or, as you pointed out, on the Fourth of July. Hopefully, whoever defeats Obama in 2012 will usher in the same sense of renewed pride that Reagan did after the ouster of Carter.