President's Day is an opportunity to bore children with that old story about George Washington and the cherry tree (entirely fabricated by Mason Locke Weems, a turn-of-the-century Deepak Chopra, by the way), save on the new car you've been eyeing (must we always link patriotism with spending?), and most important, reflect on the deeper meaning of being American.
When President Barack Obama made it his first act in office to shut down Guantánamo Bay prison, he effectively ended one shameful chapter in our country's embarrassingly large book of human-rights abuses. It was not so much redemption as a reminder that this country has a long, long way to go when it comes to detention, due process, and the Geneva Convention. It's not just alleged terrorists that are suffering from our inhumane treatment. It's also children.
Tomorrow will be historic, thrilling, profound. As Barack Obama takes the stage for his inauguration as our 44th president, the nation will hold its collective breath. Many will cry in utter relief. Some will dance on the Washington Mall, joyful where they once marched in rage. The country will be better.
But it will not be healed. First, for what tomorrow is not…
Within days of one another, two of the nation's top newspapers -- The Boston Globe and The New York Times -- published stories on youth violence. Titled, respectively, "Girl Power" (seriously Boston Globe?) and "A Rise in Efforts to Stop Abuse in Youth Dating," both reported that the rise in dating violence against young women and violence among young men rages on.
As I read coverage of the unpublished 513-page account of the American-led reconstruction of Iraq, a wave of sad recognition washed over me. The narrative thread of how a $100 billion effort to "save" Iraq became a giant save-your-own-ass bureaucracy was one that I had seen repeatedly in the news recently. A depressingly familiar story.