Monday, December 14, 2009

Menopause and Patriotism - What a Mix

Menopause and patriotism are an interesting mix.

I discovered this today when I attended the memorial service for a man I hardly knew other than to pay my respects to him and his family. I am at that stage in my life where my hormones are fluctuating and I can cry over the simplest thing; a corny commercial, a nostalgic picture, a passage in a book I’m reading. I also have a very strong patriotic streak; I tear up whenever I see a mass of people with their hands over their hearts collectively reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. So it is no wonder I reacted the way I did midway through the service.

All was well until Taps was played on a bugle, Amazing Grace on the bagpipes, and a fleet of men in marine uniform conducted the full military ceremony complete with presentation of the flag and the firing of their rifles.

I couldn’t hold back the tears; but neither could several others in the room.

In this divisive time in our country, where political and religious views seem to fracture relationships as tragically as those during civil war times when brother fought against brother, it is easy to feel like if things get any worse perhaps the life of an expatriate is the answer. I admit I have often thought that way; that I could go live in a tiny village in Sicily and leave behind the negative climate that has descended upon my country of late.

But being in the presence today of saluting marines, with the sound of such exquisite music as a backdrop, in addition to the way in which a former marine and state senator was being honored, I felt the most immense pride in being an American.

I told my husband that it’s a good thing I don’t attend military funerals very often; in fact that was my first one. On the other hand, I walked away from the event with a renewed appreciation for my status as an American citizen and looked upon the crowd not with my usual suspicious eye: who’s a conservative, who would judge me for my views, who doesn’t agree with me?

Instead, I felt a sense of bonding with those around me, all of us mourning the loss of a fellow human being as well as a father, brother, grandpa, friend. We all experienced emotion and I know that patriotism was one of them as that is when the waterworks really began. Perhaps the answer to this country’s woes, that of the discontent that leads us to accuse, point fingers and scream at one another, is the mandatory attendance of each and every American to a military funeral.

There we can witness with both our eyes and our hearts the one thing that brings us all together no matter what our political or religious views: that we are in a country built upon the spirit of patriotism, sentiment, and principles. Maybe after the final notes of Taps is played even the most obstinate attendee would embrace his or her neighbor with a renewed sense of tolerance.

Or maybe not. Perhaps all this sentimental drivel is just another symptom of my fluctuating hormones. Whatever it is I can’t get the words “I once was lost, but now I’m found” out of my head. Maybe all I need is to up my hormone dosage and call it a day.


L.T. Elliot said...

My friend and brother is a United States Marine and he and I don't have the same political views. But every time I see that star spangled flag, every time I hear our national anthem, every time I see another person protest and exercise their freedom--I think of him and his sacrifice. I think of his family and the immense love of country that they have that they're willing to give up their time and lives with him to offer me the right to live as I wish.

And in the face of that, I find myself teary and grateful--both to be an American and to know such fine individuals.

God bless.

gaelikaa said...

Oh, I find anything like that very moving. If you are emotional, you are emotional, I think so...

Alan Burnett said...

Escaping to Italy is not the answer, you just might have a scale model of Milan Cathedral thrown at your head. I have a strong suspicion that if we search the world looking for countries where there is no conflict of ideas, no political arguments, no religious rivalries : the countries we would find are places we would not want to be.

Gaia said...

I am going through perimenopause now, so I know exactly how you feel. Getting angry, crying, body aches for no apparent reason. Oh my doctor says you can experience fear too. This is so scary and I feel so vulnerable. Yes a dose of hormones could help. lol

Take care and blessings

Anonymous said...

I don't think it is hormonal, I think it is a good person being touched by an emotional and beautiful event. Military and police funerals are gut-wrenching but beautiful, the way they pay respects to the ones who have made sacrifices.