This morning I attended a Veterans Day ceremony/flag retirement at work. I am not what you would call a particularly patriotic person - I'm kind of a chicken and really lazy, so you'd never see me volunteering for active duty in the United States Military. I don't go in for decorating in red, white and blue bunting and I didn't even know the words to "America the Beautiful" until they started singing it at baseball games after 9/11. Actually, that's a lie - I still don't know the words, nor do I feel the need to learn them. I mean, what's more American than "Take Me Out To The Ball Game," anyway?
Even though I'm not lining up to reverently sing along to Lee Greenwood's "Proud To Be An American" (which was a song the school made us sing when we were in 3rd grade and which, even at the time, I thought was really kind of trite and poorly-composed), I appreciate those people who serve in the military. So outside to the flag ceremony I hied.
I've never been to a flag retirement ceremony, so I didn't really know what to expect. The local ROTC were there, looking very somber. The members of the ROTC in my school usually tried to beat me up, so I refused to be charmed by this group's hats or their multitude of medals. There was an emcee who asked all the veterans to step forward and then he recited a poem about, like, people in the military. I'm sure you know what kind of poem I'm talking about - it's the kind of poem that is sent to you in an email forward by about twelve people in your office on any given day. The email is always accompanied by some cheesy American flag .gif and, like, a bear dressed up as Uncle Sam and it ends with an exhortation to forward this email to 15 other people if you love God and Country. The poem always rhymes "pride" with "tried" and never rhymes "flag" with "slag" and generally makes me weep for this nation's artistic merits. I mean, as patriotic verse goes, it's no "O Captain! My Captain!"
After they read the Bad Poem For America, the ROTC retired the flags. First, they took them down, then they folded them (not quite as sharply as I assume they should have. I would not let these ROTC members fold my extra set of sheets.) and then, with a great deal of ceremony, they tossed them into the flaming barbeque pit! I thought that pit was going to be used for a delicious rib dinner after the ceremony. Let me tell you, there were no delicious ribs being grilled.
Which all leads me to today's Thing I Don't Love: synthetic fibers. I don't know if you know this, but most American flags are now made out of nylon. It seems to me that if we are all so het up to fly a symbol of our country - and try to criminalize any actions taken against that symbol by protestors or people who just enjoy defacing things - we might want to do as Tim Gunn would suggest, and use only natural fibers in production of said symbol. Cotton is The Fabric Of Our Lives[TM], people. It is what we entrust to enrobe our bottoms, what keeps our feet sweat-free and cool, the material to which we cling steadfastly, even when it starts to fade and sort of starts to resemble Swiss cheese. Don't we want Our Nation's Greatest Symbol (note: Bald Eagle not Our Nation's Greatest Symbol. I am afraid of birds.) to have the same benefits that we afford our bosoms when we support them with Victoria Secret's Pink Collection cotton bras?
Because I am here to tell you, nation: burned nylon is really fucking disgusting. The smoke immediately became thick and black and acrid; ashes rained down upon us like shrapnel from an unholy war of diamines and diacids. My lungs became clogged and my eyes started watering. I couldn't even finish choking out the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner," one of the few patriotic songs I really enjoy (trumpets! rocket's red glare! This is exciting stuff!).
On the other hand, people at work now think that I'm extremely patriotic. "Wow," my coworker said to me as we turned to go back inside, "you got really emotional there at the end. Are you okay?"
"Yeah," I replied. "That poem was just really powerful."
Listening To: Cansei de Ser Sexy - "Music is My Hot, Hot Sex"