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To 4ths of July that Can’t Be Remembered


NextStage: Predictive Intelligence, Persuasion Engineering, Interactive Analytics and Behavioral Metrics NextStage’s Research team recently posted Michele Bachmann Fundraising versus Campaigning on our Politics2012 blog and my contribution was one phrase, “the halcyon days of memories that never were.”

It is a beautiful summer day as I write this. I’m sitting at an outdoor table of an Italian cafe in a small New England town, waiting for a friend. The just-before-noon crowd is hopping and scurrying, lunches in boxes, lunches in bags, waitresses bringing lunches to the other outdoor patrons. Each one that passes is an aromatic delight of peppers and pestos and pastas and cappicolla and prosciutto and bread and garlic and espresso.

I close my eyes to better delight in the smells and hear the wind rustling the trees. My eyes still closed, I kid myself that I hear the cumulus clouds, great white billowing beasts with high-wind driven cirrus wisps above them, parading past me several tens of thousands of feet up, sunlight streaming down and hurrying them along. It is a kite-flying day and temperatures are Goldilocksish, neither too hot nor too cold, just right. When I open my eyes the trees perform a green skirted hula for the clouds.

At the table next to me, three middle aged women — one white, one black, one blonde, two in business suits and one in jeans — talk about jobs and husbands and lovers, their voices lower when they suspect I’m paying attention. In reality I’m just smiling at the day.

I passed through several small New England towns on my way to this outdoor table as my penchant is to take country roads rather than highways, my desire to see, to learn and study, an old teaching that “My journey is my goal, my path is my prize” and that things can happen without me. Each town had several signs alerting townspeople to 4th of July fireworks celebrations several days hence, each small town it’s own style of sign.

All these things are creating a memory I wish I had.

A memory of 4ths of July from a youth that never existed. Fourths of July were race, creed and color never mattered because they were caucasian, European and white.

The halcyon days of memory.

My New Hampshire neighborhood is multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-creed and multi-colored. Yet when we gather for neighborhood parties (usually a “ChiliFest” although there are no Mexicans here), creeds and colors and races don’t seem to matter. My Nova Scotia neighborhood is also multi-this and multi-that but less so by a factor of ten. The US may be a melting pot but Canada (up until recently, anyway) smelts its citizenry and often forges them in ways the US can’t.

The halcyon days of memory.

The neighborhoods I grew up in were All American even though we all spoke with an accent. Each house waved its flag proudly and each house had lost someone in any of a World War, Korea and in my generation, Viet Nam (I never took part). Wars moved from places we knew because they were our race, creed and color to places we didn’t, to other people’s lands.

Parades and fireworks displays were demonstrations of courage and triumph and The American Way. Now they are opportunities for advertising and insurance claims and politicking. Stores were closed on the 4th so everyone could listen to the high school band and wave at uncles and fathers riding the VFW float. Now stores have regular hours and there’s no money for bands and riders on floats have to sign liability waivers.

But I am older now. I recognize in these latter day things an American Way that probably existed just as well as those I remember but was too young to understand.

Ah, those halcyon days…

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