July 4, Part 2: An Americanism booster shot

Every July 4 there’s a ceremony swearing in new citizens at Saratoga National Historical Park. Seeing one was kind of on my bucket list, and I decided this was finally the year for it. Frankly, I felt in need of a patriotic “booster shot.”

I’ve always gotten goosebumps from the National Anthem, and other symbols of the America that has meant so much to me. But nowadays they inspire unsettlingly mixed emotions, an elegiac feeling, because I see America going off the rails. A great sorrow at what’s slipping away. Yet an intensified determination to stand by it.

Hence this booster shot, a living manifestation of those cherished and embattled ideals. A gratifyingly huge crowd turned out. The oratory (seemingly in conscious challenge to contrary sentiment) emphasized how immigrants renew America. Nineteen new citizens, from fourteen countries, raised their hands and took the oath. I stood close enough to one (the guy on the right) to be the first to shake his hand, congratulate him, and welcome him to the fold.

Shortly after, at a table with voter registration forms, I saw another (the guy on the left) sitting and filling one out. “You’re not wasting any time,” I remarked.

“This is what it’s all about,” he replied.

I got my booster shot.

The park is the site of the 1777 Battle of Saratoga. My own iconic one is Trenton — Christmas 1776, when the Americans, beaten repeatedly and chased across the Delaware, defied fate by getting back in their boats, recrossing the river, and surprising the British at Trenton. It was America’s near-death experience. But it was Saratoga that really sealed the deal, with the Brits effectively done for. Here America won freedom.

At the Humanist party (photo by Wolfgang Kurth)

The ceremony began at ten, perfect for us to make the noon start of the Capital District Humanist Society’s Independence Day party. Another booster shot reminder that America is a wonderful country full of wonderful people.

And the eats were great too.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s