A song of hope
Last weekend, I, along with one of my sons and his family, visited my hometown in Wisconsin. It was one of those trips dedicated to getting the family together for an event where no one is married or buried. In truth, I am all for the "married" get-togethers. The "buried" occasions are another story.
In addition to some wonderful dinners with most of my many siblings, we also took some terrific side trips to Lambeau Field in Green Bay and the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee. But the event that sticks with me today is the trip we made to the cemetery where my family has been interred for generations.
Three generations of Hansmann men stood beside the graves of the previous four generations. It was an emotional moment for me as I stood beside my father's grave. I thought about the three years he spent fighting for his country in the Pacific theater during WWII. He spent most of that time working as a medic. He suffered at least two "John Kerry quality" wounds, but he declined recommendations to put in for a Purple Heart. Seeing friends killed and horribly wounded on a daily basis, he said he could not, in good conscience, be awarded for his minor injuries.
My dad lived a long and honorable life. He and my mother raised eight children in small-town Wisconsin. I always believed that Dad made a deal with God while in battle: "Get me back to Mary, and I'll never ask anything more of You." Whether through divine intercession or mere good fortune, he got back home to Wisconsin and Mary and ran a small-town grocery store until retirement. I believe that as a youth, he may have had greater ambitions, but he kept his part of the "divine" deal.
The Fourth of July, Independence Day, is a holiday my dad always loved. A man with a ready smile, he was a patriot and loved our country. I wonder what he would think about the various headlines greeting us on a day that should be a national day of pride in our land.
The New York Times editorialized that "our flag is now alienating to some."
MSNBC's Mara Gay finds it "disturbing to see dozens of American flags."
Missouri Democrat representative Cori Bush slams the Fourth, saying, "Black people still aren't free."
The Washington Nationals baseball team had to cancel the annual fireworks show because of D.C.'s "noise curfew."
And most disturbing of all: PBS will present the singing of a "Black National Anthem" in addition to "The Star-Spangled Banner."
As I was about to throw up my hands in total frustration about the dire condition and future of our country, I came across something that gives me hope — a song by Aaron Lewis, "Am I the Only One?" It says things I believe in, so eloquently. It is an anthem of hope for those of us who are tired of the purposeful divisions promoted in our society by race-baiting hustlers. It is a wonderful song and one I believe that my father would have enjoyed. It certainly is not meant to replace the words of Francis Scott Key, but it deserves a listen along with Irving Berlin's "God Bless America" and Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" on patriotic occasions. I may have to have it played at the cemetery to still the spinning I fear Dad is doing down below.
I have included a link to the song. I think it's worth a listen. My father and I hope you enjoy it.
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