September 16, 2001

Sunday night–five days after the attacks on The Twin Towers, The Pentagon, and another downed aircraft in a Pennsylvania field. We decided to take our kids out to dinner to a Scottsdale Mexican restaurant; our mood was light. Our kids chatted, and we ordered our dinners. Our waiter had just finished placing steaming plates of fajitas, tacos, pollo fundido, and enchiladas in front of us. A mariachi band had positioned its members across the upstairs balcony overlooking all of we diners in the packed room below. They began to play God Bless America.

Every patron put down their forks and drinks. Everyone stood and sang boldly and proudly. At the song’s conclusion, there was no applause–just a lot of teary eyes. The background noise of a very busy restaurant was replaced with quiet subdued talk.

Fast forward twenty years: January 6, 2021. Gone was the true patriotism I had witnessed in that Mexican restaurant. I watched in horror as supposed Americans attempted to destroy the US Capitol Building. Suddenly, 233 years after the US Constitution outlined democracy, a segment of our society disregarded, disparaged, and attempted to destroy it. Their reason: Our Guy Didn’t Win.

Spare me. In every sports competition, the team with the highest score wins. In gambling, either one gets the cards or doesn’t. Miss America, the Pillsbury Bake-Off, and the Publishers’ Clearinghouse have one winner. Just because one doesn’t like the results, doesn’t call for insurrection.

Twenty years later, I feel like Rip Van Winkle. I’ve awakened to a new America that randomly kills its young and elderly, that threatens to destroy revered institutions, that spouts outrageous conspiracy theories at every turn. What ever happened to the true patriotism of Land that I Love?

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