Tag Archives: patriotism

Patriotic Repurposing

WV farm, antique tractor, American Flag

Patriotic Repurposing.

I spotted this scene while traveling along a West Virginia highway. I had to stop to get the photo. I loved all the textures, the various shades of red, and the lines in this shot. The farmer’s patriotism showed through by painting his version of the American flag on an old wooden pallet.

In honor of Presidents Day (Feb. 19), which combines Abraham Lincoln’s birthday (Feb. 12) and George Washington’s birthday (Feb. 22), “Patriotic Repurposing” is my Photo of the Week.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2018

8 Comments

Filed under architectural photography, history, holidays, human interest, news, Photo of the Week, photography, rural life, travel

The America that I love

sunrise,

Rural Sunrise.

By Bruce Stambaugh

I’m grateful to have been born in the United States. I realize that’s an easy statement for me to make given my lineage and geographic life space.

It’s taken me a while to recognize my absolute privilege as a natural born Caucasian American male citizen. Coming of age in the turbulent civil rights era of the 1960s, I should have caught on much earlier.

I couldn’t help but follow the progress of those volatile days. All earned headlines in newspapers, and plenty of airtime on the evening news. Long before the Internet or smartphones, that’s how we kept up to date with ongoing daily events.

There was plenty to absorb. Times were tense. The Cuban missile crisis, persistent protests for civil and equal rights for minorities and women, anti-war protests, urban riots, and assassinations are all indelibly etched in my psyche.

Given today’s political rancor, I’m appalled at the actions and comments of others toward the poor, minorities of every kind, and the down-and-out of today’s global society. It’s like everything is coming undone. I struggle with what to do, what to say, how to act.

My parents instilled in their children a sense of fairness, justice, and equality for all. I think that came from their knowledge of previous generations of hard work, personal experience with injustice, and an absolute desire to ensure their offspring had a better life than they did.

work ethic, Amish gathering hay

Work ethic in action.

In that, my good folks more than succeeded. They instilled in us a strong work ethic, a desire to serve, the importance of community, and the need to connect with others.

I think my devoted wife can say the same about her upbringing on her family farm. Those core values have been the foundation of our 45 years together, cemented by a love that has survived and evolved through the joys and heartaches that life lays out for each and every one of us.

Unfortunately, others in this diverse nation are not so fortunate, if only because of their race, religion, economic situation, or demographic roots. For a variety of legitimate reasons, they rest uneasily in our society.

I yearn for the day when I can erase those words. In the meantime, I see the anniversary of the independence of our great nation as a reminder to continue to help wherever and whenever I can.

As a thankful American, I see that goal as my continued responsibility. Whether through words or actions or donations or genuinely associating with others beyond my comfort zone, I must do what I can to help within my grasp and power however limited that may be.

I must linger with the poor, the destitute, and the powerless. I must listen to their cries, their calls for justice, and their desire to fulfill their basic needs.

I must learn from those who have so much less than me. They have much to teach me, to help me grow, to help me understand, to help me live.

As Americans on this pinnacle national holiday, we need to linger with one another, listen to one another, and learn from one another. Doing so is for the common good of us all.

Shouldn’t it be the goal for all of us to improve responsibly the country we all love so much? After all, the Pledge of Allegiance ends, “…with liberty and justice for all.” Can’t we all help make it so?

sunset

Rural sunset.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2016

13 Comments

Filed under holidays, news, writing

Memorial Day is for remembering

cemetery by Bruce Stambaugh

By Bruce Stambaugh

Memorial Day is for remembering.

Originally, the day was set aside to remember those who had lost their lives in military service. Most research points to the American Civil War as the primary reason for Memorial Day. Graves of confederate and Union soldiers alike were decorated with flowers.

New York was the first state to officially observe a Memorial Day in 1873, with the rest of the northern states quickly joining in. The South, however, held its own day, separate from the date observed up north.

After World War I, that all changed. Memorial Day, then called Decoration Day, was established to remember all who had died serving the country in conflict. That’s how I remember the day growing up. Parades with bands, fire trucks, flags, and veterans marched by.

In 1971, Memorial Day was moved to the last Monday of May to create another three-day weekend. With that, the emphasis switched again. It was a time to remember all those who had gone before.

Yet Memorial Day became more of a celebrative affair that lasted the entire weekend than a singular time of showing respect. Picnics, softball tournaments, fireworks, and family gatherings overshadowed a time of reflection on the sacrifices and horrors of war.

When my parents built their beloved cottage in southeast Ohio in 1975, they always invited the entire family down for a Memorial Day picnic. We went fishing, boating, played games, and generally enjoyed each other’s company.

With the kids grown and gone, my wife and I began celebrating Memorial Day at our favorite vacation spot, Lakeside, Ohio. We enjoyed the company of Flag and bunting by Bruce Stambaughfriends, along with food and games. Patriotic events were staged, too, but my preference leaned more toward remembering in silent contemplation than engaging in nationalistic revelry.

As a young boy, I remembered spending hours sorting through the hundreds of black and white photographs that my father had taken during his stint in World War II. I was fascinated with the exotic South Pacific images I saw depicted in those old photos. Water buffalo, island natives selling goods, and intended to be silly equator-crossing ceremonies all intrigued me.

Dad, like his father before him, never wanted to talk much about the war. They each only shared briefly about their individual involvement. I came away from those limited discussions with the impression that both Dad and Grandpa Merle had abhorred their wartime experiences. They wouldn’t give details, but I concluded that it was the fearsomeness of it all from which they wanted to protect me.

Grandpa had served in the trenches in France during World War I, and was hit with mustard gas. He was only treated at a field hospital, and since they had no record of his injury, he suffered with chronic coughing the rest of his life.

Dad, on the other hand, chose a rosier route, avoiding the negatives. He bragged about being on the first ship into Tokyo Bay and how movies were traded from ship to ship via pulley and cable systems. In his retirement years, Dad enjoyed periodic reunions with his U.S.S. San Diego shipmates.

Neither my father nor my grandfather celebrated Memorial Day in grandiose, red, white and blue style. Rather, they chose to personally remember the horrific effects of war silently, privately. All the while, they relished in being surrounded by family and friends, enjoying the precious moments at hand.

This Memorial Day, I plan to do the same.

Leave a comment

Filed under column, photography