The Olympics inspired Blog for Democracy to ask: What makes you proud?
Not the Olympics, sponsored by everything except patriotism. Seeing the men’s basketball team (professionals) blow out amateurs from Angola doesn’t exactly strike up the Sousa in my heart.
It once did. I was only 10, pre-Wal Mart, pre-Toby Keith and pre-Reagan. People didn’t go around bragging about their patriotism or criticizing others who allegedly lacked it. But practically everyone was waving the flag after the U.S. hockey team defeated the Soviets.
We were the underdogs. We were beaten up. We prevailed.
When I see Kobe Bryant, I don’t exactly think “we.” (And please, don’t assume any racist subtext. I’m referring to lifestyle; professional athletes live in a America most of us will never even visit. Our experiences are not theirs, and vice-versa. For them, the Olympics are as much about endorsement dollars as they are pride in country.)
My most patriotic moment was yet to come, however. The timing was appropriate, the day after 9/11, though the location was a surprise.
Molly Berg, Socialist prude, and I were having dinner at one of the cafes along the trendy section of Franklin Avenue in Hollywood (across the street from the Scientology Celebrity Centre).
On the other corner, several fire trucks were preparing to pull out from the station. We found out they were en route to Ground Zero.
As they passed, without provocation, everyone on the sidewalk rose from their chairs and applauded. The ovation lasted about two minutes, until the final truck disappeared from sight.
A few months earlier, Molly and I attended the July 4th game at Dodgers Stadium. “And here to honor America with the Star Spangled Banner, actor and comedian Jon Lovitz.” We looked at each other with a mix of dread and anticipation, anticipating a replay of Roseanne’s anthem fiasco years before.
It turned out to be one of the best versions I’ve ever heard, and Lovitz’s rousing finish was timed perfectly to coincide with a Blue Angels fly over. The combination produced a thunderous response that literally shook Chavez Ravine.
So there you have it. My most patriotic moment came in the cradle of Hollywood pretense across the street from the headquarters of a brainwashing cult, while another was spurred by a former “Saturday Night Live” cast member.
Only in America.