A Rumination on Today’s Observance

Today is US Independence Day, the commemoration of the adoption by the Second Continental Congress of the Declaration of Independence of what had been colonies from Great Britain (although the dates are wrong; the vote was on 2 July, and the signing on 2 August). It is traditionally held to be a celebration of freedom from foreign tyranny, although there have long been and continue to be reservations about it.

Some will have a blast.
Photo by Designecologist on Pexels.com

Two hundred forty-six years on, arguments still rage–and move into violence at times, too often–about what freedom and tyranny are, and there continues to be opposition to the exercise of rights by populations traditionally exploited and denied those expressions, denied recognition of their humanity, even as those in power and empowered sputter on about the ways in which they are oppressed and claim that those who are oppressed even now should be thankful that they do not live elsewhere, where they would “really” be oppressed. And it may be the case that overt oppression is not as extensive in some places as others, although I note that the comparisons are rarely made to other industrialized nations than the one whose birthday is celebrated today. (I note, too, that many of those who claim so much love for the country that they willfully ignore its flaws and failings–which does not seem to me to be love, but what do I know?–had to be forced into its service, whether de jure or de facto, and they rail against being asked to put their resources to its support even as they benefit, directly and otherwise, from the expenditure of others’ resources to that end. But I digress.)

That it is relatively less–which may well not be the case; I know the positions of privilege I occupy keep me from experiences and understandings that may well nuance or overturn that assertion–does not mean it is little enough, though. The promise, of which the nation too often falls too far short, is of an increase in freedom, a lessening of oppression, and it won’t be fulfilled until it’s all done. And that seems quite far away today.

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Celebrating Events Today

For many, today commemorates the D-Day invasion of Normandy by the Allied Forces during the Second World War. I have little to add to such commemorations that has not already been said by others far more learned on the topic than I, save to note my sorrow that the same fight that was fought then is still being fought now, if with less valor and, I fear, less success.

The happy couple, in whose work on Heart’s Desire Stained Glass I am happy to participate.

For me, of more direct moment is that my parents are married forty-one years today. As might be thought, I’d not be here without them, so…Happy Anniversary, folks!

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Still Another Rumination on Memorial Day

I have commented about this day’s observances once or twice before, I think. I am not moving this year, nor am I preparing to move, as was the case last year. I am moved, perhaps, but for a different reason and a far worse one.

Image from the district’s “School Spirit & History” page, used for commentary.

It remains right and proper that those who have died in honorable, upright service be remembered and honored. That what they died to defend suffers such as has happened–again, and again, and again, in Uvalde as in too many other places across too many years–is far, far less so. And it is hard for the reverence due the victorious dead to be given against the grief due those slain unjustly.

Let us make our world one worth the sacrifices made, one where such grief need not be felt again.

For this Memorial Day, please donate to the folks in Uvalde, Texas, who have their own memorials to erect. Send checks payable to the Robb School Memorial Fund to FSB of Uvalde, 200 E Nopal, Uvalde, TX 78801, or donate via Zelle at robbschoolmemorialfund@gmail.com.

A Rumination on Today’s Observance

It is not a secret to everybody that I live in Texas–or, indeed, that I grew up in the midst of the Lone Star State. I’ve made much in my online life of being Texan, even if I wasn’t born in the state, and so it should come as no surprise that I mark Texas Independence Day–today, in the event, y’all.

The banner of the republic state in question. Honor it.
Image from the Texas House, and so public domain.

The thing is, growing up in Texas, living in Texas, and being the person I am, my feelings on the matter are…complicated. Having attended school in the Hill Country in the 1980s and 1990s, and not in one of the major cities it claims–Austin and San Antonio, even if neither one of them is all the way in the area–I was steeped in the “traditional” lore of the Republic of Texas, that it broke away from Mexico in response to the tyrannies of Antonio López de Santa Anna, working to ensure the freedom of the brave settlers who had come into the region to make their fortunes through the sweat of their brows and the work of their hands, and that it later joined the Union as a peer out of recognition that the promise it shared with the United States was best served by confraternity between it and the several states.

(No, the rhetoric isn’t an exaggeration. Nor is the usage; Texan English admits of such terms as “confraternity” and “tump” in equal succession and measure, the juxtaposition being one of the typifying features of the dialect / accent.)

As I got older and had occasion to learn more, to speak with more people, to read more deeply and thoroughly–and not seldom in the hands of those who were writing then or in the pages that were printed then–I became aware of the amply-attested problems of the revolutionary impetus (the freedom was for white colonizers, rather than indigenous peoples already suffering or African-American populations yet enslaved because of ongoing evil), as well as the faltering socioeconomics of the nascent republic. And, of course, living in other parts of the United States as I have, and interacting online with a great many people whom I respect and admire, I have been exposed more directly to the disregard in which many hold the Lone Star State.

Certainly, there are problems–a lot of them, and large ones, several of which are in Austin and in Washington, DC (if they’re not heading to Cancun when Uri visits or encouraging book-burnings in rural communities)–in the state and with the state. There’s a lot of bass-ackward thinking here, and a lot of it’s belligerent in several senses of the term. It exerts an outsized influence on the rest of the United States, rather than being willing to leave well enough alone; Texas’s purchases do a lot to determine what textbooks are available, after all, and bills its legislature passes get used as models for other places, usually for ill.

There is good here, though. The Lone Star State makes a lot of good, influential art and culture–and no, not only in Austin, although I (begrudgingly) concede that a lot does come from there. And even the stereotypes of the state–into which many, many people lean, and lean hard–are often durned good things. A willingness to work hard and hazard the self, an insistence on honesty in word and deed, a sense that you oughta be polite all the time and friendly as much of the time as you can, an appreciation for the beauty of the natural world and for the arts, the underlying belief that we are something and that we can do it–they’re part and parcel of it, and they’re of value.

Or maybe that’s just me.

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It’s Still a Kerrville, Hill Country Christmas That I Love

I am far away, now, from the limestone hills of home
Where oaks and cedars, cypress and mesquite, rise from the riverbanks
Listening to the songs blown by breezes across the bass’s dwelling
Dancing in intricate rhythms of which Avie would approve
Sparkling in the night with our pale imitations of the stars above
I had thought it silly, long ago, when my voice was higher, and
I joined the warbling sopranos and altos breathing out
Their paean to the season and the city
Lookin’ for a Santa Claus down by the Guadalup’
As I and they made ready to take on spikes and four-point racks
Dolphins and mustangs and scorpions as we fancied ourselves then
Struggling to lift up our voices, light as they were,
And in later years, when I had donned the blue and gold,
Their hues changing over years to darker tones and back again,
My thoughts were darker yet amid the lights that sprang
From trees acorn-grown and steel-wrought beside the streets
Or tall beside where a fountain stood and a gazebo stands
And they stayed darker when I went away
Visiting far-off places where the languages shifted but still extolled
The season’s glories, whatever the weather
But
In later years, when I, beaten down, returned to that place where I was raised,
I found forgiveness in all the feasting, let my heart be lifted
Where once I had pushed it down, and if I struggle still to let it rise,
Ascend the old trees whose knees poke out of the current beside
A tranquil place amid the rush and flow, overlooked by learning’s shrine,
Scale the rising landscape that strives for green in every month and finds it
Under gray curtains when Aestas has fled for other lands
Only rarely hiding it under a white blanket, and less often for long,
As the old ones note who speak of such things over cups of coffee of a morning
And whose words I still hear in my heart when I think back on it all
From where I now sit, having sought greener fields for a time and found
They are not so much to my desire as my old home
To which I return as I may, less often than I might like,
In any month, but more in the old tenth when
Older, finer clothes are donned again beside the water and
By an earl that runs from north to south and
By a baker of no small renown on the state’s longest highway
I realize, perhaps not too late for me, that
It’s still a Kerrville, Hill Country Christmas that I love
And I look forward to seeing it again

2019
Is it any wonder?
Image from the City of Kerrville and so public domain

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