It was a hot drive Sunday, approximately 100 degrees fahrenheit. Strange thing though--it lasted 54 minutes. That’s what I said--54 minutes. We had lunch on the Sabbath at Applebees a nest of the rugged and city slickers. Twenty miles prior we drove in comfort at Eighty-Seven degrees Fahrenheit. Twenty miles later--ninety-seven degrees. Two miles outside of lunch we saw ninety-nine degrees. Fifty-two miles later...Eighty-eight degrees! I often wonder how many people notice stuff like that.
We drove the Big-Horns, full of rocks and crags, slopes, colors and all brought together by fog and rain. It’s raining...and snowing actually. We experienced a early winter’s dream up there and I’m not sad about that. Rain and snow opens beauty amongst the crags. However, earlier in the morning we stopped at a scene of interest called “The Lost City.” The “city” is actually huge boulders that have actually fallen into the valley over time and look like a city of rock. To us it looked a lot like a blanket of fog but who am I to argue with the experts eh? We’re listening to Blessed Assurance on my IPOD and with the wind and snow and a 10% grade hill I’m glad for the assurance...I’m no mountain man and I don’t pretend to be, but I’m only one tiny part of nature asked to succumb to the wiles of the high country.
Sunday’s drive was significant for me though. We were pushed around on 90 West yesterday. The wind did us few favors but it was a nice day. We had breakfast with Al at his very own Oasis...it’s actually called “Al’s Oasis” and they sell five cent coffee and buffalo steak and eggs if you want it. Anyway, we drove out of Chamberlain, SD and 30 minutes later, off into the horizon, I could make out the top of a giant American Flag, flapping confidently in strong winds. There she was. She rose up over the minutes that ensued and I loved minutes then.
I used to go to ball games. The stadium filled with fans and those who would follow them. The National Anthem appropriately begins every sporting event in the country. I remember a day when every hand crossed each heart, every hat was removed from each head and we sang together. We sang. The great part about a melting pot is that we can make a recipe from monotone, off-tone, harmony and in-tune singers alike. The point is that we know the words. We enjoyed the game, but we rested our eyes on our flag and felt our heart beat together. We could see by the dawn’s early light that the flag with stood a night of anger. Ba-bm, ba-bm. We felt the work of the brave. Ba-bm. Ba-bm. We understood us as we stood, and the pot melted each voice into one. Ba-bm. Ba-bm.
She rose into my horizon one hot Saturday. The wind, like battle beat her but a rip or tear was not to be found. In fact a symbol of these United States of America should reflect unity. If a flag tears don’t we replace it? Symbolically she represents a nation unbroken. If she falls to the ground, honor bears the offense, but tolerates none of it. When a soldier dies, she is folded without wrinkle, without carelessness. Each corner matches the other, each fold tucked perfectly. We measure that event over years, not days. Many thousands of families have received this gift presented to them using a time-honored method so that we would always know where we came from and why. My fight never included the armed-forces and for good reason...my handicap doesn’t allow me to bear arms within the armed forces. Therefore, I choose to fight for her by knowing who we are together and why you went to battle for her. Some of you came home to alive but without pomp and circumstance...almost a non-event. My dad wears his “Vietnam Veteren” cap often. Another vet crossed his path one day and simply said “welcome home brother.”
He’ll never forget how quiet it was the day he came home. Oh I wish we all had such courage.
I’m angered by those who disparage this country and her leaders with such hate and vitriol. They give our enemies less work to do in their quest to destroy who and what we are. I bear the offense but tolerate none of it. Some of us wouldn’t mind becoming like the rest of the world. Our ancestors spent many lives preparing a nation that wasn’t like the rest of the world.
She rose up, untattered and untorn. She ardently stretched before us and the wind seemed to know she should. I’ll find her in every border I cross within her...”Welcome Home” she says.
We’re driving through state borders without a thought because we know we can. We’re separated by accent, landscape, industry. A woman told her husband yesterday, “Honey, we gotta get shuckin!” Monique would simply tell me it’s time to leave. But the lady and I had one thing in common...the United States of America. Wyoming teenagers at lunch near Cody still say “cool” and “scam me some Ketchup please?” South Dakota boys understand that language. We cross borders and we cross each other and we’re happy to do it.
I love my vacation thus far. Yellowstone enfolds over two million acres. There are animals galore. Some use up acres and acres like wolves and elk, but others like the chipmunk may only use four or five dozen feet worth of this amazing, indescribable, awe inspiring part of the United States. I’m proud to know where I live and how I do it.
The stadiums still fill with fans and those who would follow them. But a few precious "stars" are now given the honor of singing our National Anthem, and a precious few of us sing along.
What is a nation without her song? The brave still know the words.
The enemy doesn’t run from a man and his gun. The enemy runs from the power of one.
For another perspective, see: http://iowaharleygirl.blogspot.com/2008/09/ipg-showed-up-at-sturgis.html.