Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Photo of the Day: Memorial Day 2011 - Stony Point, New York

This picture appeared in The New York Times yesterday. It's a fairly ordinary shot depicting an older veteran and a young boy at a Memorial Day celebration. It could be anywhere, but it happens to be in my home town of Stony Point, New York. I grew up in the area. I still have family there, though I have lived mostly in other places for the past 30 years.

According to the Times caption, the older gentleman is Arnold Rist, who is 86 years old. The youngster is Thomas Cahill, age 3. On Monday, Mr Rist played taps, as, the caption states, he has done hundreds of times at military funerals. In April 1945, it says that he was among the soldiers who liberated the inmates of Dachau concentration camp.

My sister sent the picture and she and I were trying to figure out where it was taken. We are pretty sure it's at the Stony Point Town Hall because that's where the local parades ended when she and I marched in them as part of our high school band when we took part in the annual celebrations many, many years ago.

I mention all of this, in part, because I marvel at how the political right so aggressively claims patriotism for themselves as if those of us on the left couldn't possibly understand what pride in community and the sacrifice of others means. They like to paint all of their political opponents as radically different and therefore wrong about everything.

I do hate to disappoint people like that, but I grew up in a small town. I've worked hard to understand the history, culture, and politics of my country. I take pride in what is good and criticize passionately what needs work, which is not a bad definition of patriotism from my point of view.

If you want to disagree with me, do it on the facts and not on some bogus claim that you are more American than I am simply because you think you are, as you wrap yourself in the flag and refuse to listen to any other voice but your own.

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day and remembered to remember the sacrifices made by people like Mr. Rist and so many others.

(Cross-posted to Lippmann's Ghost.)

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