Old is New!

By Rosalie Tirella

Trump’s acquittal – historic – horrific. But remember: Donald Trump is the reflection, the embodiment of, the discontent of millions of Americans. If not Trump, their rage will be poured into another vessel. Ivanka. Don Jr. Ted Cruz.

I just watched the 13+minute long C-Span video of that wild mob storming the US Capitol. A rampage of hatred, danger, complete with brandished weapons – Capitol cops beaten with flag poles, fire extinguishers, pipes … and so much ignorance. So many misguided souls. Didn’t any of the marauders take US history class in high school, didn’t their churches teach them anything – or their mothers and fathers? Confused people led by and egged on by lying demagogue Trump.

The video montage was shown for the first time during Trump’s trial. The incident more lethal than what had been presented to us in the news during the hours and days following that infamous day – January 6, 2021. My heart broke for the police officers who so needed “back up” but were denied help thanks to Trump, who watched it all on TV, savoring the violence IN HIS NAME!!, refusing to send in the National Guard or more Capitol Police until hours later – after an intruder had been shot and killed, a police officer murdered …

Yesterday I watched the opposite of the Trump Show Rampage – I watched the 1941 film YANKEE DOODLE DANDY starring James Cagney. …

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I needed to see a time when our country was more cohesive, when we Americans were on the same page, patriotic in the best sense of the word. James Cagney stars as George M. Cohan, the American song and dance man who gave us Americans so many of our rousing anthems and marching tunes during the 1920s and 1930s: OVER THERE. YOU’RE A GRAND OLD FLAG. I’M A YANKEE DOODLE DANDY! Songs our parents loved and knew by heart. Songs that many of us Baby Boomers learned in school or catechism class or scouts. Songs that helped us understand WHO WE ARE AS A COUNTRY. These songs brought us all together, helped us get through World War I and beyond. They may seem corny to the kids today – but I love them! Learned them as a kid growing up in Green Island, when we weren’t in our protective silos but lived in the rough and tumble America – TOGETHER… where kids played Red Rover and Tag before supper – no matter how ramshackle the streets, no matter how poor or well off the neighborhood. Common ground.

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Now that all seems to have evaporated: our American songs we loved to wave our American flags to, a basic understanding of our government and country’s history, a desire to be E PLURIBUS UNUM! Never have we been so poor and dumbed-down. Not #1 – but #39 in some polls. And so enraged and unwilling to break bread with people who aren’t exactly like us …

Cagney – and Cohan – were Irish Americans, sons and grandsons of immigrants. Just as up against a wall as many of our newer immigrants are today. But they embraced their America – and contributed to this country. Great songs! Great acting! Cagney is one of my fave actors! So intense and full of life – on the go, hurtling toward a bright cool future. So American! Yesterday I found myself shedding a tear or two as I watched Cagney march and sing and do all these weird but exuberant tap dance moves! What was he doing? Have no idea, but I loved it! We need more Cagney and Yankee Doodle Dandy and George Cohan. BUT NEW INCARNATIONS FOR TODAY. THE AMERICA OF 2021!

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I watched James Cagney so I wouldn’t have to watch the C-Span video of the desecration of our Capitol …