By Lt. Jim Glennon, Lombard, IL (ret.)
My Dad was born in 1929. He loved to tell tales of his black and white 1930s and 40s childhood, and I loved to hear each and every story. Perhaps my favorite was the one where he skipped a day of Catholic school in 1942 (at the risk of a significant walloping from his Chicago PD Father) in order to see a movie. The movie he was willing to risk a paternal ass-whooping for? Yankee Doodle Dandy, an absolute Classic.
The film starred James Cagney as the venerable Irish-American, turn-of-the-century, song-and-dance man, George M. Cohan. For you youngsters: look both Cohan and the aforementioned movie up on the Internet. Better yet; rent or buy the movie, grab a bucket of real popcorn, drench it in real butter (cholesterol be damned), put aside your desire to see blood, guts, gore, mashed heads, flying cars, sex obsessed adult-adolescents, machines that turn into benevolent robots, and/or Borat running around a convent in an all to skimpy Speedo, and revel in the magnificence of an unabashed, unapologetic, flag-waving, celluloid love letter about the greatest country in human history: The United States of America.
In the 60s and 70s the movie would play on TV every year around the 4th of July. And when it was on there was a clear and uncontested rule in our house; “everyone will watch it.” So there I was as a teenager sitting on the floor staring at a 20 inch black and white TV with aluminum foil on the “rabbit ears” surrounded by my eight younger brothers and sisters. And you know what? I loved it: the music, the dancing, the brazen pretentious flag-waving, surrounded by my loud family, and in particular my singing father who not surprisingly always had a tear in his eye as the movie credits rolled.
Two years ago I bought the DVD. I watched it on a plane on the way to a Street Survival Seminar. I caught myself singing (under my breath, or so I thought) all the songs: I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy, HARRIGAN, Over There, You’re a Grand Old Flag, etc.
My point? Display the flag — hell, wave it at the neighbors. Thank God every day you are who you are and live where you do. And remember those who died during this great nation's birth and in every war since in order to preserve this Union.
Happy Independence Day.