Around this time of year I look for the movie Yankee Doodle Dandy. Do you watch it also? There must be many of us who do, since I can usually find it on television at least twice around the first week of July. For those of you who don’t know about this movie, it stars James Cagney as George M Cohan, the songwriter, actor, dancer and producer.
I don’t consider myself especially patriotic, and yet I get chills, goose bumps, or whatever you want to call it, when I watch it, particularly the last 30-40 minutes. The songs aren’t what many of us consider as patriotic, and they aren’t played regularly at patriotic functions, or even at other times of the year.
The songs that particularly move me are Over There, You’re a Grand Old Flag, and I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy. Over There was published in 1917 and was an inspiration to those who joined the military. The lyrics include an encouragement to enlist and to make your mother proud. I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy is a light-hearted comment on being born on July 4th. But I think You’re a Grand Old Flag is my favorite song. I love the images expressed in “Forever in peace may you wave” and “You’re the emblem of the land I love.” As I said earlier, I don’t consider myself especially patriotic, but I often get tears in my eyes when I hear these lyrics.
If you haven’t watched this movie, I hope you will try it. Also, I think we each need to write about what moves us or what causes strong emotions. These stories, even if they are short, allow our descendants to know more about us than just the facts of dates and locations.
Happy Independence Day, Citizens of the United States of America! Wherever you are.