Posted by: bkivey | 6 July 2014

4 July 2014

I don’t usually write about my daily activities, because it would make for some boring reading. But I did see something this past July 4th that made me wonder.

I finished work early Friday, and repaired to a bar for lunch and to watch the Colombia – Brazil World Cup match (I’m predicting Brazil – Argentina in the final). Afterwards, I had the rest of a gorgeous summer day to do something on the 4th.

The MLB Arizona Diamondbacks Single-A (short season) affiliate is located in nearby Hillsboro, and watching a baseball game on Independence Day is a quintessential American activity. Sure, it’s nearly the lowest level of pro baseball (only rookie league is lower), but it is live baseball. A quick check of the schedule showed the Hops playing in Keizer, 35 miles south. No worries, a 45 minute trip down I-5 would put me at the game.

Volcanoe stadium ext 1

 

The Volcanoes home stadium was decorated for the holiday. The listed capacity is 4200, but the announced crowd was 5600, likely because of the fireworks show after the game. The Hops were at the top of the standings, while the Volcanoes were at the bottom, so I was reasonably confidant of a visitors victory. I grabbed a couple of hotdogs, a large soda (suck it, Bloomberg) found my seat, and got ready to watch some baseball. Life was good.

4 July game action

 

Game action. That’s the Cascades in the background with Mt. Jackson just to the right of the foul pole. The clouds over the desert had an interesting texture, like shelves stacked atop each other.

alpenglow at game

 

A bit of alpenglow during the 7th inning stretch singing of God Bless America.

Contrary to expectations, the Hops starting pitcher gave up three runs in the first inning, and the Hops bats could make no headway against the Volcanoes starter. Things looked hopeful late in the game, but the Volcanoes reliever pitched himself out of a one out bases loaded jam. The home team finished with a 5 -1 victory.

That was the game, but what motivated this post was this:

4 July pregame 1

A scene from the nearly hour-long Independence Day pregame ceremony. Independence Day in the US marks the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. I would expect that a celebration of this event might include a reading of the Introduction and Preamble of the Declaration,  along with reenactments of some of the rhetoric (particularly Patrick Henry’s speech) that took place prior to ratification of the Declaration. Perhaps some speechifying by politicians on what it means to be an American with a selection of patriotic music and songs.

There was none of that.

What did take place was a celebration of military veterans. I’m as supportive of the military as the next person, perhaps more so, as I grew up an Army brat, but I found the focus of the event irritating. The veterans honored were heroes all, including one who had survived five years as a guest of the Vietnamese, and the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient. But the focus of Independence Day is, or should be, on the country and the people in it. We already have a holiday devoted to military veterans. My feeling about the event was as if people were going to throw you a birthday party, but when you get there, you find someone else being feted.

I don’t think my expectations about an Independence Day event are out of line, and events on the day in my youth were a celebration of the US. Even on military bases where parades would consist largely of soldiers and weaponry, the theme was still focused on the country. Why would the Volcanoes events staff depart from that model to focus on veterans?

My thinking is that the events staff thought a military-themed event would be ‘safe’. Whatever one may think of the military as an institution, even in this part of the country most people understand that military service ranges from hard to near-impossible, depending on the job. Every person serving is a volunteer, and rare is the individual who will publicly disparage them.

Perhaps the front office thought a US-focused event wouldn’t be inclusive enough or might offend those who weren’t US citizens. I would hope that wasn’t the case, as the erosion of tradition and neglect of history is how cultures die.

It may be that because the Single-A season doesn’t extend into November, staff thought that Independence Day would be an appropriate time to honor military veterans. There’s certainly a place for that, but I don’t think it should be the entire focus of the event.

“With Us, It’s Psychological”

Rite Id

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