Patriotic Songs


On the first cold, gray November day between the up and the down escalators in the Food Court of the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago, there is an empty space where the sign to enroll in the Affordable Care Act used to hang. Beneath the sign, behind the table sat two people. Navigators. They helped people sign up for a chance, first chance, maybe only chance to be healthy. Now that’s all gone. The pretense that we are one nation under God, cracked like a mirror with a gaudy cold frame. Healthy is a privilege. Not a right. The sneering dog whistle message underneath it all. Even when spoken in soft, baffled tones is “I got mine. Why can’t you get yours?”

I sit down to eat, a little New Orleans Chicken and Rice. And a Marine Choir lifts up disciplined voices in “God Bless America.” Instinctually, I look up from my Kindle and my chicken, poised to swell with quiet pride. But then I catch a glimpse of the bare space where the ACA Sign up table used to be. Yes I know it’s not gone, but its been maimed. Just like the man right outside in the cold, bent at the waist, styrofoam cup shaking like a death rattle rhythm. It’s been maimed.

The Marine Choir sings of mountains. But I can hear other songs rising. And I silently cheer.

The love for the song rising up and out by that transgender victory in the Virginia State House. By the loss of that guy in New Jersey who wondered if a woman would be home from the historic Woman’s March in time to fix dinner. And then thought that was OK.

I silently cheer for the new Mayor of Helena, Montana. The Liberian refugee. The governor’s of Virginia and New Jersey.

The pride in country starts to come back. If only for a moment. I silently cheer thinking about other songs and poems, other winter days, like the one about when Woody Guthrie moved into the Beach Haven Apartments in Brooklyn owned by slumlord Fred Trump.

In the empty space where health care was once for everyone. Not just the rich. In that space, I hear echoes of Woody through the ages.
Getting stronger through the songs. I can hear those songs.

And the pride starts to grow again. One nation. One people.
One pride in the music.
One quiet, strong cheer for the songs.

11 Responses to “Patriotic Songs”

  1. Tom Dickinson Says:

    I was expecting a riff on:

    And the snow flies On a cold and gray Chicago morning Another little baby child is born in the ghetto

    And his mama cries For if there’s one thing that she don’t need it’s another hungry mouth to feed in the ghetto

    Yours is much happier, optimistic…thanks, Rog


  2. toritto Says:

    Roger – You sir, know how to pull the strings. I have a daughter and son in law on ACA. And my long gone Uncle Dom and Aunt Helen lived in Beach Haven….a half a century ago. But I too felt good that the America I love still lives. Many thanks for this one. Best from Florida. Frank

  3. toritto Says:

    Roger – can I re-blog this on my blog? With full credit of course.

    • chicagoguy14 Says:

      Thanks Frank! Maybe the good in our home just went to sleep for awhile? Figured it needed some music! OF COURSE you can repost it! I’d be honored!

  4. Tom Cordle Says:

    This is from one of my favorite singer-songwriters, David Lynn Jones. WordPress won’t let me put an audio file in a comment. Here ‘tis, in case you might want to add it to your post.


  5. Tom Cordle Says:

    Sing along with this one, One Song, from one of my favorite singer-songwriters, David Lynn Jones. Oops, it won’t let me put an audio file in a comment. I’ll email you a copy, in case you might want to add it to your post.

  6. chicagoguy14 Says:

    Word Press can be a pain. Send me an email. Would love to hear it!

  7. Tom Cordle Says:

    I sent you an email, and I see it showed up here as a comment. Did you get the song One Song?

    • chicagoguy14 Says:

      I got 4 messages from you, all of which said the same thing and NONE of them had the song! Did Bretibart buy Word Press???? You have my real email right? Hate to put it online here but if there is no other way I will.

    • chicagoguy14 Says:

      Just noticed that when I subscribed to your blog, I gave my real, main email. That should work! Thank you for doing this!

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