About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
Born in Illinois, I grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. I am married, for the 2nd time now, to Butch & got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me grandmother 25 times over & great-grandmother to over 20!. After many years working in industry, I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication, & was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 & returned to school & got my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore & genealogy - & add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/author/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play many folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I write the "Aunty Jeff" column for the Informer, newsletter of the Jefferson County NY Gen. Soc. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega & Sara Cochran as Genealogy Journeys® where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that: genaandjean.blogspot.com. More on our podcasts: genjourneys.podbean.com. More about my own projects: Circlemending.org.

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Sunday (OK, Tuesday) Singalong - Patriotism and July 4th


Back in the 1960s-‘70s, I did more than my share of marching, protest meetings, and singing all the while. A lot of songs I sang then I would not sing today, largely because my personal ideals have changed and my perspective has widened. But I never lost my feelings of pride in my country. And I never forsook the pride I felt for those in my family who had served their country with singleness of purpose. How blessed I have been to be married to a righteous Navy vet. His stories (the ones he was permitted to tell) were always uplifting and added to my sense of patriotism. I don’t regret my activities of my youth and I recognize much of my enthusiasm was fueled by a sense of love for my country. But I also realize that my sentiments were not shared by all my friends, though most of those in my “circle” did come from that same script. I have a great appreciation for a statement Pete Seeger made in one of his songs of protest: “If an army invaded this country of mine, you’d find me out on the firing line.” At this time in my life, and looking at what’s going on around the world, I think I’d look at that action as probably too late.

So, I am actually posting this on the 4th of July, a special date in many ways. My brother was born on this date in 1945, so one of my first actions of the day is always a quick call to him, but then to promise a longer one later as he always has plans on this date (usually involving baseball, which it does today, in spite of his years alive now totaling 78). And it was on this date, 47 years ago, the 200th anniversary of our country, that I had a special “date” with my future eternal companion, watching fireworks at Angel Stadium (OK, outside the stadium, in the grass) where we reminisced about our respective youths and realized we had been in a parade together in 1959 in Illinois!

Lots of thoughts here. Now, which will the song topic be? The underlying “Patriotism” sounds about right. There are a lot of songs, born of America’s Civil War, that speak of love of country and service in the military at the time (1861-65), but when we look closer at the words, we realize that most of the songs, at least those composed during the war years, were anti-war songs. Funny how context can change an entire focus! 

One of my favorite performers, writers, troubadours, and all-'round great guy was Hoyt Axton. He does a rather recognized song here.

"The Yellow Rose of Texas"

Got a song of patriotism that comes to mind?

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