Sunday, August 8, 2021

Thursday Night in America: Standing for the Flag and Singing the National Anthem

The Pageant of the Masters is an unique Orange County festival running for two months during summer. The festival recreates famous paintings, sculptures, and music in which actors and actresses dressed appropriately fit into the picture. They assume a still life pose for up to two minutes as the audience is awed by the living pictures. The living art looks like blown up copies of the originals. About 250,000 persons annually see the 90 minutes of living art. The theme changes every summer. This year’s theme is “Made in America.” The narrator started this year show differently than in past years. After the usual no photography admonitions, he asked the audience to stand for the Flag and National Anthem. The audience collectively sang the Star-Spangled Banner and then spontaneously applauded. No kneeing; no turning one’s back on the Flag. This is America. This is the America we grew up in. This is America today, an America Americans are proud of. This is the America not represented by the post George Floyds riot, lootings, trashing of America, and erasing cultural monuments and history. This is not the America of much of our Millennials and Z Gen, who have been educated on Howard Zinn and taught America is racist and oppressive. A recent survey of 1424 adults between June 30 and July 2 showed 67% are extremely or very proud to be patriotic. However, only 37% between the ages of 18-24 could say the same. 35% said they slightly or not at all proud to be an American. This is not the America of President Biden who repeatedly says America is systemically racist, but then sometimes adds Americans are not racist – a distinction a brilliant lawyer could craft, but not one President Biden could create on his own. A study of several Georgetown students found them to be “embarrassed” to be an American, but none could name a better place to live. This is the America that President Nixon referred to as “The Silent Majority.” The Pageant’s “Made in America” is a tapestry of American history. It had the famous paintings of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and the Declaration of Independence. More. Much more. “Made in America” is a tapestry of America. It featured Edmonia Lewis, a famous sculptress of the Nineteenth Century. Edmonia was of African American and Ojibwe heritage. She spent several years of her youth on the reservation. She loved nature, but art, especially sculpture, was her calling. She overcame all the obstacles a Black woman could face in the post-Civil War 19th Century fulfilling her dream, but she succeeded, eventually settling in Rome. Edmonia became famous and a success. President Grant commissioned Edmonia to paint his portrait. Her works were featured in Chicago’s famous 1893 Columbian Exhibition. The world fair is best known today for Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmstead and the City Beautiful Movement and for Professor Frederick Jackson Turner presenting his famous paper on the End of the American frontier. The fair also played a significant role in the advancement of women in America. The Woman’s Building was the largest the 200 fair buildings. The Woman’s Building was run by the Board of Lady Managers. Sophia Hayden with her architecture degree from MIT, designed the Woman’s Building. The painter Mary Cassatt created a 12’ X 58” mural entitled “Modern Woman” for the Woman’s Building. The mural has been lost in time, but the Pageant of the Masters was able to recreate it for the show. The Pageant featured the music of Scott Joplin and Duke Ellington and sculptures by Luis Jimenez. Made in America – a tapestry we can all be proud of.

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