It is the fourth of July, and every year for the past five years, I have posted the music video to Lana Del Rey’s National Anthem on my Facebook.
This year, despite everything, the tradition continues.
I used to post it because “red, white, blue in the sky / Summer’s in the air, and baby heaven’s in your eyes” felt like the perfect Independence Day theme. But this year, I see National Anthem more as a loss of innocence story than a celebration. A tragedy. Sure, it uses a lot of classic Americana imagery (early 1960s themed). But that sheer panic when this dream they’ve built up unravels into disenchantment? People running frantically after the presiden’ts car while memories of better times flash across the screen? Extremely relevant.
The ending monologue reminds me of my own feelings about the United States, as an immigrant and someone who had to learn the culture as a child. I remember how absolutely enchanting it was, and how much I liked the idea of a free land where people could live “with liberty and justice for all”.
“And I remember when I met him, it was so clear that he was the only one for me. We both knew it, right away. And as the years went on, things got more difficult. We were faced with more challenges. I begged him to stay. Try to remember what we had at the beginning.”
As I’ve grown up, my relationship with patriotism has grown more nuanced and complex. All relationships must develop. It can be difficult not to feel disenfranchised in this era. This summer, I have written to senators. I have participated in events for Families Belong Together. I have pined for the day in which I came home from a Bernie Sanders rally and said to my family, “I just saw a bird land on the podium of the future president of the United States.”
As tough as it is to stomach the current administration, the nostalgic pride remains. Thus, I try.
And I loved him. I loved him, I loved him, I loved him.
And I still love him.