On Memorial Day, the America of Our Dreams
Memorial Day edition
So, the Grouchy One and I were out for one of “our” walks this weekend, in which the Grouchy One goes wherever he wants without consulting me, which I find more than a little ironic, since I’m the reason we actually go for walks.
To tell you the truth, it doesn’t make any difference where we go, since you can count on coming across something that's dead and rotting and decaying, hopefully some small animal or a bird, and I’m always hoping to get a bite or two before the Grouchy One catches on and hysterically yanks me away and even shoves his fingers down my throat to get it out, while yelling about how sick I’m going to be. Humans take a lot of liberties, if you ask me.
Anyway, we happened to walk past a huge billboard, a “public service” advertisement for the National Guard. There’s a full-color picture of a soldier in battle gear – helmet, camouflage, boots, the works – dangling from a helicopter. I don’t know about you, but helicopters are something else; I’d love to get a ride in one, but as a dog, I don’t see there’s much chance.
The soldier isn’t alone: he or she is holding onto this little girl with brown hair, and it goes without saying that the soldier has just rescued her, probably from a flood, where she was on the roof of some house, and the soldier was lowered by a winch, grabbed her and now they were being hauled up to the chopper and safety.
It gets better. The billboard includes the words “Local business owner,” with an arrow pointing to the soldier.
Perfect! Not only is this man or woman giving up spare time to meet the National Guard obligations, but the soldier's a star in civilian life, too, the embodiment of the American Dream, probably a small businessperson, (notice the implied present tense), which means a success in business, and not just some schlub with time to spare.
“In the America of our dreams, Cat,” I said, “citizen soldiers volunteer to protect the country, to fight – to kill if it comes to that, but they hope that it won’t – to save democracy and sometimes civilization, just like in World War II, when ‘We’ defeated Hitler and the Nazis and liberated the death camps.”
Cat yawned, and did that thing he does with his claws – where they emerge from his front paws, all sinister and sharp-looking. It’s never been clear whether he is just stretching, or getting ready to rip my eyes out.
“You’ve GOT to be kidding,” Cat said. “Let’s not overdo things here. Yes, we think of ourselves as the Good Guys – and even these days, the Good Gals. But war, being what it is, and Humans being what they are, our soldiers are hardly saints. At best, they do their ‘jobs,’ at worst they burn villages, bomb cities and sometimes kill little children, known officially as ‘collateral damage.’ ”
“I know all of that, Cat,” I said. “But you are deliberately missing my point. That National Guard billboard represents the kind of America that we want it to be. And that’s important. If you don’t have standards, an image of what’s good, there’s no chance we’ll get somewhere.”
Cat scowled, and headed for the stairs and his daytime lair.
“I suppose,” Cat said, swishing his tail, “that this has something to do with Trump.”
“You said it, not me, Cat.”
“I know where this is going, which is why I’m going, too,” Cat said.
“You mean Trump’s ‘vision’ for America?” I said.
“Where the commander-in-chief cozies up to Putin. Where Trump phones the president of the Philippines to congratulate him on murdering thousands of ‘drug dealers’ – no trials, etc. Pals around with the Saudis. Tweets that the reporters are the ‘enemy.’ Tells lies. Grabs Human crotches. Is trying to kick millions of people off of Medicaid, so that thousands will die.”
“Good grief, Phoebe, it’s Memorial Day,” Cat said. “Can’t you just take the day off? Does it always have to come back to Donald Trump? It’s a HOLIDAY!”
“I know it’s a holiday, Cat,” I yelled at him as he pulled himself and his sagging stomach up the stairs, one tread at a time. “Don’t you wish all of us could enjoy one day without agonizing about what Trump and the Republican enablers are doing to our country?”
Cat disappeared, and the house was suddenly silent, quiet enough to hear the sound of a helicopter, just in case help was on its way.