Today we celebrate Flag Day, which commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States. You will recall that this happened on June 14, 1777, by resolution of the 2nd Continental Congress.
And I thought this was interesting from Philip Roth in The New Yorker last week:
A Newark Jew—why not? But an American Jew? A Jewish American? For my generation of native-born—whose omnipresent childhood spectacle was the U.S.A.’s shifting fortunes in a prolonged global war against totalitarian evil and who came of age and matured, as high-school and college students, during the remarkable makeover of the postwar decade and the alarming onset of the Cold War—for us no such self-limiting label could ever seem commensurate with our experience of growing up altogether consciously as Americans, with all that that means, for good and for ill. After all, one is not always in raptures over this country and its prowess at nurturing, in its own distinctive manner, unsurpassable callousness, matchless greed, small-minded sectarianism, and a gruesome infatuation with firearms. The list of the country at its most malign could go on, but my point is this: I have never conceived of myself for the length of a single sentence as an American Jewish or Jewish American writer, any more than I imagine Dreiser and Hemingway and Cheever thought of themselves while at work as American Christian or Christian American or just plain Christian writers. As a novelist, I think of myself, and have from the beginning, as a free American and—though I am hardly unaware of the general prejudice that persisted here against my kind till not that long ago—as irrefutably American, fastened throughout my life to the American moment, under the spell of the country’s past, partaking of its drama and destiny, and writing in the rich native tongue by which I am possessed.
(from an acceptance speech for the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, delivered on November 20, 2002)
(The song is, of course, Johnny Cash covering the classic “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty.)