July 05, 2007

July 4: sparking dialogs on bombs, patriotism, wording, survival

With sounds of fireworks reaching me from Atlanta's Lenox Mall, I am sharing here what lit my imagination after exchanging email messages and reading a favorite blog.

With Angela Yarman, my friend and interfaith dialogue partner 

On Jul 3, 2007, at 1:05 PM, Angela Yarman wrote:

Tamar, I just received a tribute to the USA Flag by a military veteran from a friend. I thought of forwarding it to you, then I hesitated. I wondered if it would seem arrogant to you – although it admits arrogance. These used to be lofty, admirable ideals that every American would profess and be proud of. Now, it seems we are to be ashamed of our strength and our freedom. Not me.

Enjoy! Happy 4th of July!

On Jul 3, 2007, at 1:19 PM, Tamar Orvell wrote:

Thanks for sharing. Parts of the writing resonate with me. Other parts do not. Arrogance is one of my least favorite qualities.

I am a grateful citizen of two democracies, and living in Israel helps me to appreciate the gifts and responsibilities of citizenship in both countries. I quarrel about much — policies, laws, and customs, as examples, in both countries. And this quarreling is one way I take responsibility.

Happy, happy Fourth!

On Jul 4, 2007, at 10:50 AM, Angela Yarman wrote:


At Mass this morning, our pastor spoke of how ‘under God’ became part of the Pledge of Allegiance. It was a movement of the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic Church’s fraternity of men. What interested me was President Eisenhower’s comments on the change: “These words will remind Americans that despite our great physical strength we must remain humble.”

Belief in the higher power of GOD gives us both strength and perspective on our weakness – humility – the opposite of arrogance.

I’ve told you before – these things always pop up during our [digital] conversations. See attached [history of the Pledge and changes to its wording] for the full low-down on “under God.”

* * *

Karen Alkalay-Gut, in her Tel Aviv Diary July 4, 2007 entry

I do not like fireworks. Usually I go inside and close the shades with like-fearing friends or family until it is over. After all, I was born in a bombing and have been too near shelling upon occasion throughout my life.

But last night, at [the home of] the U.S. Ambassador [in Israel], when I found myself in the middle of an enormous crowd of people when the fireworks show was announced, I had no choice. And as I watched the sky and listened to the military band, I was filled with a remarkable sense of pride for America. The sycophantic words of [Israel's Prime Minister] Olmert, who spoke previously on the mutual interests of the U.S. and Israel, had rung so false in my ears, that I had thought I had no room left for anything but cynicism, but the rockets' red glare reminded me of that anxiety of Francis Scott Key and the relief that "our flag was still there." The song ran true. The fireworks were not just a sound and light show, but an assertion of the illumination of the victory of survival.

So even though we had been so worn out with our guests an hour before we had considered skipping the Fourth of July bash, I was euphoric all evening, was overwhelmed with a desire to eat the same kind of hotdog i had refused at numerous family picnics, and promised with enormous enthusiasm to go to a baseball game....


Anonymous said...


What a nice post a a great perspective from a dual citizen. Thanks for including my e-mails to you.
We need to explore the difference between “shame” and “humility.” I wonder if a reader might infer that my second note to you somehow reverses my opinion in the first, which it does not. I do think that Americans have a tendency to be arrogant with our patriotism at times. We shouldn’t do this, both because it is wrong and because it makes us unpopular with our world neighbors. But we should never be ashamed of our liberty, our democracy or our military strength. Our strength is what keeps us (and our allies) free – we should always be proud!

I am reminded of our patriotic tune, “Grand Old Flag” – ...the emblem of the land I love, the home of the free and the brave. Every heart beats true ‘neath the Red, White and Blue, where there’s never a boast or brag...


Tamar Orvell said...

Thank you, Angela, for your clarifying comment and for getting me humming again (rather endlessly) the tune. I learned it as a child watching "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and for years, re-watched it to hear Jimmy Cagney singing and strutting to its beat. The story I never followed though to this day, the melody, the lyrics, and Jimmy are etched in my memory.