Sunday, August 2, 2009

Next Year, Let’s Have a Good Old Time Independence Day in Dallas

On July 4 this year I did something I’ve done several times, visited Santa Fe, had a pancake breakfast on the Plaza—along with everyone else in town—and listened to a band play patriotic music. The local Rotary Club sponsors the Pancake Breakfast as a fundraiser, and it’s always a good time.
I think the Independence Day celebration in Santa Fe made a big impression on me the first time because Santa Fe doesn’t seem like a very “American” town. I don’t mean that as a slight because I love “the City Different”, but Santa Fe doesn’t look like any other place in the country with its low adobe buildings. If you look closely, even the people in Santa Fe—with its high proportion of Hispanics, Native Americans, artists and eccentrics—don’t look like the Middle American image that we often have of patriotic celebrations. I’ve lived in Iowa, and Santa Fe is not anything like Iowa.
Of course the fact that I feel like I’m in a different country doesn’t mean I actually am in a different country. Most of the residents in Santa Fe—even not counting Native Americans—probably have a lot longer history than I do in this country. During the Civil War, New Mexico Territory actually fought on the Union side, winning the Battle of Glorieta Pass against an invading Confederate Army (but that didn’t stop the band from playing “Dixie” among its medley of patriotic songs—which also included the Battle Hymn of the Republic).

A few years ago I visited Acoma Pueblo, one of the most dramatic pueblos in the Southwest. One of the stories our guide told us was of seven members of the Acoma Pueblo that were captured by the Japanese and endured the Bataan Death March—according to the guide the only such group where every member survived. I’m always amazed by the strength of patriotism that you find among groups that have live through severe oppression in this country. There’s a lesson somewhere there for us all.

But that’s all besides the topic that I’m thinking about today, which is that it’s time we here in Dallas start some traditional gatherings. Granted, it might take quite a few years to get a tradition established, but the sooner we start, the sooner it will happen.

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