Unformed Thoughts: “This is a good day for America”
A people’s voice ! we are a people yet / Tho all men else their nobler dreams forget / Confused by brainless mobs and lawless Powers, / We have a voice with which to pay the debt / Of most unbounded reverence and regret / To those great men who fought and kept it ours. – “Ode on the Death of The Duke of Wellington,” Alfred Tennyson
Last week during the lead up to the Royal Wedding, I couldn’t help but feel a little jealous. It’s not that I’m particularly fond of royalty, or weddings, or haphazard flag waving, but just look at the photo above and try not to smile. The Royal Wedding was an occasion for joyful patriotism–an extraordinary event that allowed British citizens to unify into a singular coherent voice and cheer for the country and for themselves. The wedding was a spectacle, sure, but the pomp and circumstance that surrounds a national event of that magnitude has the desired effect of simplifying and focusing the collective national identity of each individual citizen.
I was jealous because I knew there could be no American analog.
Then last night around 9pm CDT, Twitter, Facebook, and various news websites were abuzz with information regarding a rare Sunday night address by the president regarding “unspecified content.” Osama Bin Laden, as we all found out together, was killed in a covert operation inside Pakistan.
Within seconds of the announcement, the death of Osama Bin Laden became common knowledge. In an instant, people on the streets formed impromptu flash mobs; fans at a Philadelphia Phillies game broke out in chants of “USA! USA! USA!”; passengers on flights 30,000 feet cheered and sang the national anthem. Pretty soon streets were filled with citizens waving American flags and for the first time since September 11th, 2001, we became a unified voice.
We had our Royal Wedding.