ALPERN AT LARGE-It's been another year and another successful Flag Placement at the West Los Angeles National Cemetery. Crawling out of bed in the morning on a holiday weekend to show up bright and early for a show of American patriotism and respect to our veterans and fallen heroes, the region and nation saw yet again how the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Sea Scouts, Cub Scouts, Brownies, Daisies, Explorer Scouts, and a host of other young boys and girls could raise a sea of tens of thousands of flags--one for each marker--in a manner of minutes.
Love of nation, and love of the Divine, and love for those who fight to protect our freedoms-and to have worries comprising mainly of taxes, traffic, politics, and family responsibilities, with the joys of having a day off, spending time with friends, wondering what to watch on TV or at the movies--was displayed openly and with pride.
The legendary American voice actor Jimmy Weldon (Yakky Doodle, for you baby boomers) gave a heartful and stirring speech to send us all off on the start of a wonderful Flag Placement event followed by a holiday weekend. Other veterans also spoke--and it's clear that we are still the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave.
As Americans on this Memorial Day Weekend, the questions of what the American Flag stands for, what our freedoms portend, and what our responsibilities entail, deserve to be raised. Probably without any "answers", because not only are these questions unanswerable in a manner common to all Americans, but arguably it's the debate that is the goal, and not any "answer".
But despite our nation's freedom and hopes, fears are both understandable and beneficial--because the world is plagued with a variety of dangers, and our nation has threats from both without and within, and from those who mean well and those who mean ill, for us all:
I fear a blind adherence to a history that glosses over the flaws and sins of the past, but I fear also those who will rewrite and despise our history enough to gloss over our greatness and struggles (and who will minimize the Holocaust, Greatest Generation and World War II so as to almost suggest they're irrelevant to our present day).
I fear those who insist on blind patriotism to our nation's leadership and those who are apologists for our nation's leaders' flaws and bad decisions, but I fear also those anti-Western, anti-American and new-era Socialists who despite our nation and its ideals and who seek to end America as we know it.
I fear those who ignore and belittle the dangers of how we misspend our hard-earned taxes on education, infrastructure and national defense, but I fear also those who oppose and despise spending our taxes on these priorities altogether.
I fear those willing to blindly make bad military and diplomatic decisions, but I fear also those who despise the military and the need to make courageous diplomatic decisions altogether.
I fear those who despise homosexuals (even those who choose monogamy), but I fear also those who despise religion and those who both adhere to religion as they grapple with an ever-evolving world.
I fear those who resist any change to the traditions and policies of the Boy Scouts and other venerable youth organizations, but I fear also those who despise the Boy Scouts and other youth organizations altogether.
I fear those who lack compassion for our veterans and who refuse to spend more to help them achieve their health, employment and housing needs, but I fear also those who secretly despise our veterans for their service and who will use veterans' plight to undermine what they fought for (and still do not regret fighting for).
I fear those who are callous and unfeeling for the homeless and the mentally ill, but I fear also those who are equally callous and unfeeling for the rights of the majority to live in a safe, clean and healthy world.
I fear for those who are without sympathy for the working poor and for those struggling to survive within the joys of the middle class, but I fear also for those who ignore the plight of employers and businesses who themselves live within the middle class (and are not at fault for risking their wealth and health to seek wealth while struggling to avoid being poor themselves).
I fear those who are so caught up in their rage against President Bush or President Obama that they forget why and during what circumstances these two men took on the challenges they chose to confront, but I fear also for those who ignore and minimize the blunders and collateral damage their aggressive endeavors created.
Finally, I fear those who sin in the name of the Divine and of our Nation, but I also fear those who either overtly or covertly despise their lives to the extent that they despise the Divine and Divinely-inspired Nation that gave them the opportunities to make something of their lives (and who choose to live to pull the rest of us down).
We are still the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave--our youth deserve our example, our support, and (when needed) our hopes and prayers.
But for one sincere, solemn and successful moment, on an early Saturday morning on a Memorial Day Weekend, we were all undeniably Free and Brave.
(Ken Alpern is a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at Alpern@MarVista.org He also does regular commentary on the Mark Isler Radio Show on AM 870, and co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.)
Vol 13 Issue 43
Pub: May 26, 2015