Saturday, September 3, 2016

The National Anthem

I watch a lot of ESPN, and I watch the PBS Newshour.  I've heard a lot of the commentary on Colin Kaepernick's protest involving not standing for the National Anthem.  As a big fan of the 1st amendment, and of non-violent protest, I don't have a problem with his choice.  The media coverage has given me the opportunity to learn a lot -- I did not know, for example, that Francis Scott Key was a slaveholder, or that the Star Spangled Banner has a third verse suggesting that the US winning the battle will keep slaves in their rightful place.  Since Britain banned the slave trade in 1807, he may have feared that a British victory in the War of 1812 would have meant an end to slavery in the United States as well, though Britain did not actually ban slavery itself until 1833.  I also recently learned about the international day of remembrance of the victims of slavery and the UN statue that honors them. 

Since all the commentary seems to be about the protest, and not about the issues that caused Mr. Kaepernick's concern in the first place, let's take the conversation on a related tangent and ask, should we have a different Anthem?

If so, what should it be?

We have a lot of great patriotic songs available, so here are some choices, in order of those I like best.  My brother suggested two of them.  Please comment on which you like best, and why, or propose another song.

This Land is Your Land 
Woody Guthrie

Lift Every Voice and Sing
James Weldon Johnson

America the Beautiful
 Katherine Lee Bates

My Country  'Tis of Thee  (if you can get over the tune thing)
Samuel Francis Smith
Tune:  God Save the King

The Battle Hymn of the Republic
Julia Ward Howe
Tune:  John Brown's Body

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Why I buy Girl Scout Cookies

And Boy Scout popcorn, and Band fruit, and other fundraising items....

It is not the value of the cookies themselves, though I like Thin Mints as much as the next person.  I do buy only from the actual scouts, and expect them to be able to explain why they are selling the cookies, but it is not just to encourage entrepreneurship in young people and young women especially.  It is both more complicated and more simple than that.

Being a Camp Fire Girl, and going to summer camp, saved my life, or at least provided me with a grounding place all my own, and a measure of inner peace -- hard to find, especially for a teenager.  I went to summer camp every summer from the time I was nine until I was twenty-one, as a camper, counselor-in-training, counselor and unit director.  280 acres, two lakes, canvas tents in the sand counties of Wisconsin.  It was my favorite place on earth. 

I learned many things in the City, too, through all my Camp Fire activities -- practical things like our baby sitting course, and complex things, like serving on the city-wide high school leadership council.  I had the opportunity to go to summer camp in Alaska, at a camp that is still operating.  I think there have been some improvements there since I was in High School, but wilderness hiking, survival, and kayaking seem to still be central to the experience.  It was the experiences, and the activities -- and the people.  Lessons learned and lasting friendships -- and friendships just of that time and place.  A lifetime of memories.

I have not come across a better philosophy of life than the Camp Fire Law as I learned it as a child:

Worship God

Seek Beauty

Give Service

Pursue Knowledge

Be Trustworthy

Hold onto Heath

Glorify Work

Be Happy

I have almost no photographs of summer camp;  we were encouraged to remember it "in our hearts" and it was a time when not everyone had a camera.  It was magical, the wind in the Whispering Pines, a long windbreak of 40 foot white pine trees, the smell of the sandy road baked in the summer sun, the meadow of wildflowers alive with butterfly weed, and the murky, mud-bottomed lake where I learned to swim.

My friends and family who were Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, 4-H Members;  who went to church camp or music camp, have had experiences like mine.

So, no matter how many cookies are in the box, or how much the cost has increased with time, remember that you are not buying cookies, you are giving a child the chance to go to summer camp.

Photos taken at Woodland Dunes, Two Rivers, WI.  Their meadow is very similar to the one from my summer camp, though it is a different micro-climate.  The Top photo is butterfly weed.

Fortune Cookie

Information is not knowledge.
Knowledge is not wisdom.
Wisdom is not truth.
Truth is not beauty.
Beauty is not love.
Love is not music.
Music is the best.
Frank Zappa