Archive for July, 2007

Patriot

It is lamentable, that to be a good patriot one must become the enemy of the rest of mankind.
-Voltaire

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American Icon

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Have you gotten a new passport with in the last month? Did your jaw drop in awe at the new “American Icon” design? The passport redesign was six years in the making and incorporates practically every patriotic, American symbol in existence into a tidy little personal shrine. Out of the country and feeling a little homesick, not to worry just open up your very own “American Icon” and bask in the glow of amber waves of grain, bald eagles, and large heads of dead presidents all accompanied by a healthy of dose of patriotic quotes.

But most importantly the icon overdose that is your new “e-passport” also comes complete with its very own RFID chip embedded in the back cover. If case you forget your identity, not to worry, the scanner at the airport knows exactly who you are.

Check out this recent New York Times article by Neil Mac Farquhar about the e-passport. “Stars and Stripes, Wrapped in the Same Old Blue”

Another good article about the passport: “E-passport: Doorway to the Panopticon”
pa*nop”ti*con\, n. A prison so constructed that the inspector can see each of the prisoners at all times, without being seen.

Oh, and this is what the state department has to say about it:
“The new U.S. e-passport will incorporate updated security features and a new design. This design will reflect the varied landscapes of our country and each page will include a quote reflecting the hope and success that is the United States of America.”

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Freedom Rock

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Recently someone sent me a series of photographs of a rock in rural Iowa that a local young man Ray ”Bubba” Sorenson has been painting since 1999. The rock, a 56-ton granite boulder, had been scrawled with graffiti for years until Bubba painted his first patriotic Memorial Day mural. Now the murals remain on the rock undisturbed until the next Memorial Day when he paints a new patriotic theme.

He started painting the Rock after viewing Private Ryan and felling that patriotism was at an all time low. He thought about the rock and how many people would see and be influenced by his message.

For me this homegrown mural raises so many thoughts and questions about the nature of patriotism and the nature of memory and tribute I thought I would put up a few of the photos of Sorenson’s murals and link to the site, Freedom Rock, where you can view all the murals since 1999, read about Bubba, and get directions to the site.

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Lowering the Flag

Lowering Flag For War’s Dead Brings New Rift
by Ian Urbina
This article from the New York Times brings up an interesting debate on why and for whom we fly the flag at half-mast. According to The United States Flag Code, the desicion to fly the flag at half-mast can only be made by the United States President and the individual state governors.
Traditionally, the flag has been lowered for a month at a time to honor the death of presidents and government officials. But since the start of the Iraq war more than half of the states’ governors have decided to lower their flags for 24 hours when a soldier dies in combat.
Some people feel that the constant lowering of the flag for every soldier who dies in combat cheapens the tribute and is in fact an antiwar comment. Most military families feel it is a welcome a sign of respect for fallen soldiers.

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, who has lowered the flag 127 times since 2003, says it is “Not a comment about the war. But it is a statement about service and about soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice.”

During a recent funeral for a Michigan soldier, the car procession passed through several towns that the young soldier had grown up, gone to school, and worked in. The state agencies had the flag lowered but the post office, which takes its direction from the federal government, did not lower the flag.
A postal employee said, “If you lower every time a soldier dies, it will be down so often that people will only notice and ask when it is up.”