I remember singing the national anthem, loudly, proudly, passionately feeling the lyrics, my adolescent tenor soaring over the voices of the other 6,000 students in the Brooklyn Technical High School assembly.Then there was Vietnam and most grotesquely and dishearteningly the faux patriotism in the aftermath of 9//11.
Normandy-Oh Say Can You See…
I remember singing the national anthem, loudly, proudly, passionately feeling the lyrics, my adolescent tenor soaring over the voices of the other 6,000 students in the Brooklyn Technical High School assembly.
Then there was Vietnam and most grotesquely and dishearteningly the faux patriotism in the aftermath of 9//11. The wearing of American flag pins by venal politicians who had connived or bought their way out of Vietnam but shamefully sent our children to Iraq, ill-equipped and poorly trained-to die or be mutilated and then compounded the felony by criminally neglecting them when they came home. The VA hospitals are a disgrace.
Irving Berlin’s GOD BLESS AMERICA, his homage to the country that welcomed and inspired him and millions of other immigrants, including my son Rudy, is now obligatory at 7th inning stretches of Major League baseball games. Don’t even dare to not stand with the faithful.
Rudy had solemnly strode onto Omaha Beach towards the Channel while I waited on the site of the flags of participating nations. He found a spot where he could gaze, reflect and collect sand in a Ziploc bag to share with his son. We didn’t discuss the invasion, Normandy, the American cemetery, filled with Carerran marble crosses and Jewish stars and the formerly blood-soaked beaches that defy words.
But I know that he was remembering D-Day, 6 June 1944 and the 3,000 American boys who had fallen in the surf, on the beach or scaling the cliffs and Robert Capa who had inspired him with his shots of the landing as he too tumbled out of a landing craft and into the nightmare around him.
Then the silence and reflection were pierced by the taped opening bars of The Star-Spangled Banner, accompanying the raising of the American flag. Rudy turned and gazed in silent respect and I once again felt the emotion of that 16 year-old high school student.