Monthly Archives: November 2018

November 20th : a red, amber, green and black letter day

Sometimes, I start writing entries on this blog with no real plan for where it might take me. Today is one of those days, but it’s been a fascinating journey, and I hope you’ll enjoy it too…

Traffic lights as we know them are 95 years old today. The patent for three position traffic lights was awarded in the US to Garrett Morgan on this day in 1923. The first traffic light system had been installed in London in 1868, but it was Morgan who came up with the idea of adding the amber light to better control traffic at busy junctions. Morgan sold the rights to his invention to General Electric for £40,000 (equivalent to about £500,000 in today’s money).

Morgan’s is a fascinating life, straight out of the American Dream handbook, made all the more remarkable by the fact that he was the black son of former slaves. Born in Kentucky in the final quarter of the 19th Century, he moved north to Ohio searching for work and took jobs as a handyman and then sewing machine repairman, before opening his own repair shop. Such was his success, that he expanded into clothing stores and then a newspaper – the Cleveland Call and Post, one of the most prominent of the black newspapers in the US.

The Call and Post featured prominently the Scottsboro case in 1931, which led to Supreme Court rulings on the conduct of criminal trials that remain in place to this day. The case was highly racially charged, involving an allegation of rape by two white women against 9 African American teenagers in the state of Alabama. The case is now widely cited as an example of a dreadful miscarriage of justice.

The Call and Post was facing bankruptcy and dissolution in 1998, but was saved from the brink by boxing promoter Don King. King is one of the most flamboyant and controversial characters in world boxing. He promoted the Rumble in the Jungle and the Thrilla in Manila – two of the three bouts contested by Mohammed Ali and Joe Frazier; and more recently, he was responsible for charting the meteoric rise of Mike Tyson, before an equally dramatic decline in his protogees fortunes. King himself has twice been charged with manslaughter – on the first occasion he was acquitted when the court accepted that he was seeking to prevent the victim from robbing him. The second case was much less justifiable, and King spent nearly four years in prison as a result.

More recently, King landed himself in hot water when he used the n word while introducing Donald Trump at a presidential campaign event at a Black church in Cleveland in 2016. It’s perhaps unfortunate that there isn’t a system of warning lights for Republican speakers at political rallies. It would save them all a lot of unnecessary trouble!

 

 

International Men’s Day

It’s International Men’s Day today, apparently. This is a new one on me, but it has been running on 19th November annually for a number of years now. In the UK, the focus is on promoting male health and wellbeing, and in particular mental wellbeing, with a focus on the high rates of male suicide, and promotion of support services available to men. Whether there’s really a need for an International Men’s Day in a world where – for the most part – men’s rights are rarely subject to the same abuses as those suffered  by women, is a highly debateable point. However, I guess that any opportunity to highlight the range of services available to men (and women) to support mental health ought to be applauded.

At a much more trivial level, International Men’s Day this year coincides with a day off work unwell for me. I have contracted that vicious and virulent disease – man flu. It strikes indiscriminately and knocks victims for six, leading to long periods of self-pity, and consumption of large quantities of paracetamol and Covonia cough medicine. I have spent much of the day putting my affairs in order, and if there’s no blog tomorrow, you’ll know what’s happened…

Diversion Therapy

Let’s be honest, there’s not much to be happy about in the news at the moment. It’s Sunday. The sun is shining (at least in Cardiff) and I’m going down with a cold (it’s probably flu but I’ll get no sympathy here). I need a bit of cheering up, so I’ve trawled the internet to find some reasons to be cheerful.

First up, this story about the mysterious malfunctioning of a car park barrier in a North Yorkshire country park. When staff opened up the workings to try to find out what the problem was, they discovered this little character curled up fast asleep inside.

wood mouse

Keep the noise down!

The wood mouse was carefully removed and returned to a safer (and more natural) setting, although presumably one without the added attraction of CPU powered central heating!

Next up, this wonderful story of a Japanese museum that has been running a two year cat-and-mouse (ahem!) battle to keep two cats out of the building. We have recently begun sharing our house with a cat of our own (and no – I can’t believe I just wrote that either!), but I can vouch for the fact that once a feline has set their sights on something, no amount of gentle admonition or cajoling will deter them from their path! There’s no doubt that Flo (our cat) will make an appearance in this blog at some point before the end of the month. In the meantime, I commend Ken-chan and Go-chan on their resilience and determination; and also the museum that’s spotted the commercial opportunities in the story and gone with them full-tilt!

Finally – news of a dream job for anyone who – like me – prefers the trimmings to the turkey on Christmas day. A Manchester pub is looking for somebody to taste-test the chef’s novel twists on pigs in blankets – the sausage-wrapped-in-bacon accompaniment to turkey. Now I don’t know what Christmas dinner is like in your house, but we can’t cook enough pigs in blankets in this house to meet the demand on the day (and then as snacks for at least the three days following). The amazing this about the Manchester job opportunity is that, not only do you get to try out these amazing savoury snacks, but they’ll also pay you £500 for the privilege. The only drawback? You have to be a Manchester resident to be considered for the job.

Have a lovely Sunday, dear Reader – and try to find the sunshine amongst the gloom of today’s main news stories!

What gives?

The annual BBC Children in Need telethon took place across the TV and radio network yesterday (Friday 17th November 2018). Over £50m was pledged for children’s charities in the UK during the day – a record for the event that has been running since 1980. Indeed, yesterday’s total took the cumulative money raised by the charity across its 38 years to over £1 billion. This is an incredible achievement and there are literally thousands of organisations that have been able to develop, deliver and sustain projects for and with young people in the UK that would otherwise never have happened without access to this funding. It may seem odd that children living in one of the world’s most advanced economies have to rely on charitable funding to deliver services that you might think ought to be the responsibility of government in a wealthy, democratic society; but another story from yesterday’s news reveals the impact that 40 years of more or less neo-liberal economic policy (and a self-imposed austerity programme in the past 5 years) has had on the poorest people in the UK. The UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty released his assessment of poverty in the UK and concluded that : “Levels of child poverty are “staggering” and 1.5 million people were destitute at some point in 2017.” While the gap between rich and poor in the UK continues to grow, the need for appeals like Children in Need will continue. It’s frankly bizarre that we continue to take pride in how much is raised each year, rather than rising up in fury at an economic system that makes charity necessary to prop up essential services for those who are least able to fend for themselves. To be clear, this is not a criticism of Children in Need which is doing fantastic work. It’s just a shame that it has to.

Also catching my eye today was this story in the Guardian. At first sight, the account of the homeless man who donated his last $20 to a woman stranded without petrol in a strange city, shows the best of human kindness. That the woman then created a GoFundMe page for the man as a way of thanking him and creating a fund to allow him to get back on his feet, appeared to be about all that is good and uplifting about the human condition. The fact that $400,000 was raised for the man is an indication of the touching effect that the story had on those who read about it on social media and in the following newspaper coverage. 

Except it was completely untrue. There was no late night drama at the petrol station; and whilst its true that the man was homeless, he has never seen a dime of the $400,000. The man, the woman and her partner have all now been arrested on charges of fraud and obtaining money by deception. Ironically, the authorities were alerted to the case when the man sought to sue the couple for the money raised. It’s not clear what’s happened to the $400k, but it does seem as though it has disappeared.

There is no doubt that social media and on-line communications and donation channels have revolutionised the way that charities and charitable causes are able to raise money quickly, easily and with minimum administration costs. But as with all things on-line, their speed and ease of use also make them attractive to people with less altruistic intentions. I guess the lesson from the US case is to treat on-line appeals from unrecognised individuals and organisations in the same way that we would people randomly shaking tins in the street. It’s a shame that that’s the case, but its probably the only way that we can be sure that our donations will truly end up where we think they’re going.

In praise of film music

I’ve become a bit of a fan of Classic FM whenever I’m travelling alone in the car. I recognise that its a bit like buying a compilation album, in the sense that you only get to hear snippets of classical works and rarely in their full symphonic, operatic or other context, but on the plus side it has caused me to download much more of Rachmaninov and Shostakovich’s full works than I otherwise would have. The other great thing about the station is that it plays a lot of film music, and that’s what’s prompted today’s blogpost.

Great film music can act as a reminder of the film long after the dialogue or sometimes even the cinematography have faded in the memory. This week, on the Classic FM breakfast programme, they played Ennio Morricone’s incredible theme tune to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. It’s a brilliant piece of music, and has become the standard against which all Western film music has been judged ever since. I now make a point of watching Leone’s spaghetti westerns specifically because of the Morricone music that accompanies them. I am convinced that it’s what my soundbar was designed for – cranked up to almost too loud to bear. The music is every bit as characterful as Clint Eastwood’s lone drifter cowboy, seeming to capture the essence of the Mexican desert and the discordant and unpredictable life at the edge of the law.

C. and J. are planning their own cinema trip this weekend to catch up on the recently released Nutcracker movie. I think a couple of hours on the sofa with a bottle of red and a Netflix re-run of Clint and Ennio may well be in order!

A Lidl blog about John Lewis and Aldi other Christmas adverts

The John Lewis and Partners Christmas advert has been released. It’s as sure a sign that Christmas is coming as the appearance of the Coke lorry with its Holidays are Coming refrain. This year, John Lewis has teamed up with Elton John and the underlying message of the advert is about the potentially transformative impact of Christmas presents on young lives. There is a serious message within the advert about the importance of music as part of early years education – something that is under increasingly severe pressure as school budgets are cut back to the bone. The choice of a piano as the gift in the advert is an interesting one. Pianos aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of John Lewis and it’ll be fascinating to see whether the post-Christmas sales data shows increased trade in independent  music shops.

An interesting phenomenon in recent years has been the way that Aldi and Lidl (other discount supermarkets are available) have sought to piggy-back on the highly glossy campaigns of other companies to highlight their own offerings. On the same day that John Lewis released their advert, this one appeared from Lidl. And Aldi has been running a spoof advert loosely based on an amalgam of the Coke lorry and the film The Italian Job for weeks now. This sort of low-cost, guerrilla advertising is every bit as clever and carefully planned as the big-budget productions of the major corporations. Guerrilla advertising was also employed by the organisers of the Glastonbury Festival today, when they chose to reveal the first headline act on the main stage for the 2019 Festival through posters stuck up in two Oxfam shop windows in Streatham, London and the Somerset town. The coverage that the Festival has achieved through print and broadcast media at virtually no cost, has been amazing.

Which all goes to prove that Mark Twain (as so often) was right all along : “Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”

Spitting Image revisited

The creator of Spitting Image, the satirical sketch show involving caricature puppets of politicians, sportspeople, celebrities and others in the public eye, has donated his entire archive of material to Cambridge University library. When asked whether the time was right for a re-boot of the programme, Roger Law commented that : “We are back where we were with knobs on and yes it can be done.” If you’ve never heard of Spitting Image, or have no idea what it was all about, then I’m not even going to try to describe it – instead, please follow the link to the YouTube excerpts. Suffice to say, in the 1980s, it was the most subversive pricker of pomposity and hubris that there was. In many respects, Spitting Image can trace its ancestry back to the satirical programmes including the Frost Report and Monty Python in the 1960s; and which continued in slightly more mainstream form with the great impersonators (such as Mike Yarwood) of the 1970s and 1980s. Anyway, I’ve been motivated to write today’s blog through re-imagining what a Spitting Image of 2018 might look like. I’ve come up with some characters that I think would make great satirical material and I’d love to hear your views.

The first would be a narcissistic heir to the family billions who gets bored with appearing on reality TV shows and bankrupting a succession of otherwise strong businesses, and chooses instead to run for president of the United States. Each week would feature a sketch where the petulant man-child causes chaos in the corridors of government through random policy announcements made entirely through social media. These would be punctuated with abusive comments directed towards other world leaders and threats of war, fire and brimstone against any person, country or religious group that happens to come under his gaze. Positioning himself as an anti-establishment figure who was committed to ridding the country of corruption and Making it Great Again, he’d actually be permanently mired in allegations of corrupt behaviour and colluding in foreign interference in the democratic process. All such allegations would be brushed off as fake news by the President and his team of fawning acolytes, who would distribute blatantly doctored video and audio footage to back up their increasingly ridiculous claims. To make clear that this character was a gross caricature and not based on any real person (past or present), the puppet would be coloured vivid orange with a superfluous mop of hair vainly struggling to cover a large bald patch.

My second character would be the UK prime minister and leader of the Conservative Party. The shadow of her puppet character would be shaped to match the Margaret Thatcher character of the original series, but each time my new character said or did something stupid, the Thatcher-shaped shadow would shake her head in a mixture of disbelief and despair. My character would speak entirely in aphorisms and slogans, adding emphasis through constant repetition of her personal mantra : “Let me make this absolutely clear”, before launching into a vacuous and unintelligible soundbite. At the end of my first series, this character would be deposed as a result of a coup led by former cabinet members from the deranged alt-right wing of her party, and the coup de grace would involve her being sent on the last train through the Channel Tunnel to France before it is blown up on the Folkestone side. Brexit means Brexit, after all.

The third and final character in my pitch would be an elderly, left-wing career politician who – through a series of unfortunate events – finds himself as leader of the Labour party. His long track record in opposing all forms of government (right or left) over a thirty year period stands him in good stead as he charts a course that means that he will never actually have to govern himself. Miraculously, in the face of the least popular and most dysfunctional government in modern history, he manages to keep the Labour party behind the Conservatives in the polls, and maintains his own approval ratings at a reassuringly low level. This character will have an uncanny knack of disappearing from scenes whenever called upon to actually say anything significant, only to pitch up in North Africa or South America at some event to mark an episode in a glorious but ultimately doomed revolution from the 1970s.

And they say that satire is dead.

 

 

Blast from the past

I’m woken each morning by my radio. At 6am it cranks into life, usually in the middle of the BBC news bulletin (I think it may be a bit slow – the bulletin is usually well under way when the radio comes on). This morning’s news item (of which more later) was a vivid reminder of times past, and the Public Information Films that were a staple of BBC programming through my childhood.

One of the earliest series of films that I recall featured the Green Cross Code Man, with his messages about road safety, and the importance of stopping, looking and listening before setting foot off the pavement. The Green Cross Code Man was played by actor Dave Prowse, who later went on to international stardom as the body actor for Darth Vader in the original Star Wars movies (Vader’s voice in the films was provided by the unique baritone of James Earl Jones).

Around the same time as the Green Cross Code man, there came the HM Coastguard animated shorts that gave us the immortal “drowning not waving” line. Who could ever forget the images of Joe and Petunia sitting on the beach or walking along the coast path, waving back to the poor man being blown, swept or washed out to sea as a result of some misguided nautical adventure.

Of course, not all the films are now looked back on with quite such nostalgia and affection. It’s hard to believe that there was a time when wearing a seatbelt in the car was an option rather than a legal requirement, and when we thought of Jimmy Savile as an affectionate ‘uncle’ character, rather than the predatory paedophile that we now know about. Even so, the ‘Clunk Click every trip” slogan of Savile’s films promoting safety in our cars was a vital part of the campaign to reduce death and serious injury in road traffic accidents.

Which brings us to this morning and the BBC news bulletin. The story that was being featured as my radio came on was about new research that shows that none of the market-leading ‘flushable wet wipes’ tested has passed water industry standards for degradability. Wet wipes are a major contributory factor in the emergence of so-called fatbergs – the massive deposits of material that form in the sewer system – causing blockages, flooding and damage to the fabric of the UK’s ageing waste management system. The final comment of the BBC reporter before handing back to the newsreader in the studio could have come straight from the script of a 1970s public information film. “For now, we are urged to think of the 3Ps when flushing stuff down our toilets – if it isn’t Pee, Poo or Paper, it shouldn’t be being flushed.”

Whether the 3Ps will eventually pass into the lexicon of everyday usage like Stop, Look, Listen; drowning not waving; or clunk click, only time will tell. What’s for certain is that my Weetabix didn’t look so appetising this morning as they normally do!

An easy one today – my dad’s birthday

Today is my dad’s 80th birthday. I read back over the post that I published here on the occasion of his 75th birthday in 2013, and to be honest, it still holds absolutely true. Dad has had a tough few years health-wise, but he has borne all that has been thrown at him with typical fortitude and the unfailing support of my mum. I have cut and pasted the post from 5 years’ ago for today’s contribution with immense pride and absolutely no regrets. Happy birthday dad – still my hero.

Tuesday 12th November 2013 is a landmark date for our family. It’s my dad’s seventy-fifth birthday, and this blog (on the eve of that momentous achievement) is dedicated to him.
My dad is my hero. This is something that I’ve never said to him (to be honest, neither of us is very good at talking about that sort of thing), but I am so proud of him that I hope he’ll forgive the embarrassment that reading this will cause him. I also hope that he’ll understand that I am writing this as a tribute to the man he is because it’s really important to me that he understands how I feel now. Life really is too short to leave these things until it’s too late. So – sorry dad – but you definitely deserve this
The concept of “the hero” has arguably lost some of its value in recent years, with sporting performance being described as “heroic”, and moderately talented pop-stars acquiring “hero-status” with their juvenile fans. But my dad is a hero in the traditional, classical sense : “a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his… noble qualities” (dictionary.reference.com definition).
Paradoxically, my earliest memories of my dad are linked to the fact that he wasn’t there! This is not because he had abandoned us, but rather because he had made the decision to train as a social worker, and was completing his Certificate of Qualification in Social Work at Aston University, Birmingham. This involved leaving Cardiff each Sunday evening and returning each Friday for the duration of the course, living in digs in Birmingham during the week. None of this had been in the original plan. My dad is the eldest child of a large family that was living in Splott, literally in the shadow of the steelworks, when my paternal grandfather passed away. It was at this point that my dad assumed responsibility as the main breadwinner for the family, leaving school and taking a job in the steelworks as a teenager.
During this time, my dad was also regularly attending the Bridgend Street Methodist Mission, effectively a place of worship and local community centre all rolled into one. It was here that my dad met my mum (her dad and grandfather were instrumental in setting up and running the Mission throughout this period, but that story is for another time). The ‘Mish’ (as it is was affectionately known then) provided my dad with access to the two great passions in his life (in addition to my mum of course!) – namely, his Christian faith and football. I have only very vague memories of watching my dad playing football, and they are all centred around a period towards the end of his career when he turned out for Bridgend Street and we would go to see him on the ‘hallowed turf’ of Splott Park. Before that, though, he had played in the South Wales Amateur League for Cardiff Cosmos, and was feared and respected in equal measure as a tenacious, skilful and prodigiously quick centre forward who belied his slight stature and possessed an almost gazelle-like ability to spring into the air to win headers against much taller centre halves.
It was during his time as a member of the youth club at Bridgend Street, and then having graduated into a leader role, that my dad felt that he was being called to the Ministry and set about preparing to put that call to the test. He became a Methodist lay preacher, taking services around Cardiff and further afield, at a time when transport involved buses, trains or – if feasible – Shanks’ pony. Eventually, he secured an interview for a place at Cliff College where he hoped to be accepted to train as a Methodist minister. The panel that interviewed him decided that full time Ministry was not the right path for my dad, an aberration that I have no doubt that they would put right without so much as a second thought with the benefit of hindsight. However, the Methodist church’s paid ministerial loss was definitely social work’s gain.
It’s impossible to know what our lives would have been like had dad been accepted into the full-time Ministry, but I know one thing for absolute certain – I wouldn’t change a thing. Throughout the whole period of my childhood, my mum and dad worked incredibly hard to give their three boys the best possible start in life. As well as working full time in a variety of social work and probation roles in the Cardiff area, my dad also worked two evenings a week as a Youth Club leader in Llanrumney, and ran Youth Centre football teams on a Saturday morning and afternoon. Neither social work nor youth work were particularly profitable occupations in the 1960s and 1970s, but we never went without. Looking back, I’m still not quite sure how my parents managed it, and I’m sure that there must have been many occasions when they weren’t quite sure how they were going to do it either, but none of us ever missed an opportunity to go on school trips, take part in sporting or musical activities, or otherwise take advantage of whatever was available to us at the time.
Having initially started his social work career in the probation service, my dad’s work saw him moving up through the ranks via posts as a Prison Welfare Officer in Cardiff Prison, a hospital social worker responsible for patients with spinal injuries at Cardiff Royal Infirmary, and on into Team Leader and senior management roles in the Vale of Glamorgan, north Cardiff and finally at County Hall. Along the way, he completed a BA (Hons), part time, at the University of South Wales, graduating in the late 1980s; and throughout all this, he continued as a Methodist lay preacher and was a Deacon at Christchurch United Church in Llanedeyrn (where we had moved into a new house in the mid-1970s).
So far, so factual (or at least, it’s how I recall it, and any errors of fact are entirely my own). But in and of itself, none of this really justifies the ‘hero’ tag. That stems much more from who my dad is, rather than what he has done. I cannot recall a single instance of my dad losing his temper with us as children – even though we must have driven him nearly to distraction on many occasions. He always seems to be so in control, so calm, so measured. “Slow to anger” could have been written for my dad, but that should not be confused with any lack of determination or weak-will. Once his mind is made up, there is little that will divert my dad from his chosen path – evidenced by his completion of the inaugural Cardiff Marathon in appalling weather conditions. I like to think that some of my dad’s sense of fair play and sympathy for the underdog has rubbed off on me too, but I am under no illusions that I have a long way to go before I can claim to be in his league. Even now, at 75 years old, he will be completing his stint at the Foodbank later this week, helping to provide a vital and increasingly busy lifeline to those who are literally destitute.
I have so much to thank my dad for – for always being there when I have needed his advice, support and wise counsel; for being prepared to not be there in order to complete his training for a career that would enable him to give us a better start in life than he had been able to enjoy; for being such a superb role model as a husband, father, and man; for simply being there when words were not needed.

Happy birthday, dad; and thanks – this one’s for you…

Active remembrance is more important now than ever

It’s been an interesting weekend for news watchers. The headlines have been dominated by coverage of events to mark the hundredth anniversary of the end of the Great War (1914-18). Almost inevitably, yesterday was dominated by the sorry excuse for a human being that temporarily occupies the Oval Office at the White House. I don’t know who if anyone actually advises Mr Trump, but I can only assume that he completely ignored their exhortations yesterday that whatever the weather, he simply had to fulfil his commitment to attend a memorial event at a US War Grave site in France. His decision not to attend, and then to compound that gross error of judgement with a spectacularly ill-judged tweet about the wildfires in California, simply served to reinforce the view that this is not somebody who is fit to represent his country on the world stage.

Comparing Trump’s behaviour with that of other world leaders over the weekend is fraught with difficulty. It feels like damning others with faint praise to say that they are so much more impressive than Trump. He sets the bar so low that even common decency appears like the most incredible selflessness and compassion in comparison. Contrast Trump’s decision to stay warm and dry in his Paris hotel room, with the hugely symbolic gesture of Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron holding hands at a ceremony marking the signing of the armistice in November 2018. This symbol of togetherness, of unity in seeking to strengthen peace and solidarity, stands in stark contrast to the isolationist approach of a US president who appears not to understand that a world divided is a world that has failed to understand the lessons of the Great War, and the 1939-45 War that was directly linked to the punitive peace imposed on Germany at Versailles.

Learning from history so that we avoid repeating the same mistakes again is the action part of remembrance. Quietly acknowledging the sacrifice of the countless millions on all sides who have suffered directly and indirectly as a result of war is necessary and appropriate. But if we don’t also strive to ensure that similar things can’t happen again in the future, then remembrance becomes an empty gesture. The sacrifice of those who have suffered is rendered worthless, meaningless.

In his speech in Paris today, Macron echoed the earlier words of leader of the Free French during the Second World War General (and later President) de Gaulle when he decried the re-emergence of nationalist policies and agendas across western democracies. Comparing patriotism (the love of one’s country) with nationalism (hate for others), Macron concluded that : “By saying ‘our interests first and never mind the others’ you stamp out the most precious thing a nation has – its moral values.” I actually paused in the writing of this to watch the latest instalment in the new Dr Who series. Tonight’s story centred on the partition of India in 1947 and the slaughter of Hindus and Muslims that followed on from the fatal decision to establish the border between India and Pakistan on religious grounds. The forced displacement of millions of people that followed is a clear example of a destructively nationalist approach – our interest first and never mind the others.

It’s the sentiment that underpins Trump’s withdrawal from the international treaties that seek to mitigate the worst excesses of humankind’s on-going impact on climate change; and it was the sentiment that drove so much of the narrative behind the Leave campaign in the lead up to the UK referendum on membership of the European Union. It’s a reductionist approach that diminishes all of us. The League of Nations (the fore runner of the United Nations as we know it today) recognised that peace and prosperity were most likely in a world of mutuality and co-operation. That world consensus was tested and strengthened during the Second World War.

Active remembrance today requires us to re-focus on a positive and proactive patriotism that celebrates the values of democracy, co-dependence, and mutuality that bring us together across national, religious and political boundaries. That would be a fitting tribute to those who paid so heavily for our chance to be better.