The city filled with flags proclaims
its puffed-up patriotism
the billowed colors clamoring
for adoration, for awe.
The crest of a cardinal catches
my eye instead, my loyalty pledged
to saving it, to a future of
scarlet feathers brightening trees.
A constellation of white wood
anemones on the creek’s bank
garners my allegiance, my hope
for beauty in the years to come.
The first blueberries of the year
bring with them a taste of wonder
and a wish for a republic
filled with enough fruit for all.
Tomatoes, roses, rainbow stripe,
great whales, clean snow, and polar bears,
blue morpho butterflies, clear skies –
all things for which I take a stand.
-Ida Bettis Fogle, 2018
I’m sure I will still wear my red, white and blue as I usually do on July 4th. I will not miss my city’s fireworks display. And I still find things to celebrate about our country.
But I wrote this poem because I feel that patriotism lately is being overtaken by nationalism, and that too many people — especially those who are positioned to really do something about the environment — are more interested in immediate personal gain, while not looking at the big picture.