Bunting: (n) patriotic and festive decorations made from cloth or paper, usually in the form of draperies,
I was only eighteen years old, and I drove to Columbus, Ohio, to see President Nixon. He was passing through town.
I wasn’t a particularly political teen, but it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity–to see a President of the United States. It also gave me a chance to get off school so I decided to go.
The atmosphere was festive. They had a band from some high school, a female singer to do the national anthem, and hundreds and hundreds of feet of bunting–red, white and blue as far as the eye could see, draped over everything in sight.
From a distance it was very impressive. But being the curious type, I inched my way forward.
As I got closer, I realized that since it was a hot day, the band members had unlatched the top buttons of their uniforms and unfastened their hats, losing some of the magnificence of the visual.
So I moved a little closer.
In no time at all, I wiggled my way within twenty-five feet of the girl in the prom dress and the tiara, who was about to sing the national anthem. She was dripping with sweat–I assume from a combination of heat and nerves. She didn’t look nearly as lovely.
Somehow or another, perhaps because of my honest-looking face, they let me get all the way up to the stage, standing two feet away from the colorful bunting. I inspected it carefully and saw that it was held on by staples, scotch tape and was wrinkled in many places due to being put up in haste. It was not very attractive.
The backstage area, where the President was to come through to give his speech, smelled like sweat with a hint of alcohol. And because there were two or three dogs wagging their tails nearby, there was a whiff of the woof.
I thought to myself, the closer I got to the experience, the less impressive it was. I registered that deep in my soul.
For perhaps the whole secret to our journey on Earth is realizing that the closer people get to us, the more real and genuine it should be.
The bunting was put up in minutes to last for a few hours, to be ripped down and thrown away.
It is frighteningly symbolistic of our political system, and the way we sometimes regard the important values of our culture.
Published by Jonathan Cring