It was 2012……
The Diamond Jubilee year of Queen Elizabeth.
I remember a parade on the Thames, rain pouring down, a choir on one of the barges singing “Jerusalem” – not England’s national anthem but it may as well be – it’s a surrogate much as “America the Beautiful” can be to our own anthem.
“I will not cease from mental fight;
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.”
— ‘Jerusalem,’ William Blake
It’s all in mind again reading of conductor Daniel Barenboim’s passion for the British works of Edward Elgar, themselves anthemic – see the Pomp and Circumstance marches, or one other song on the Thames that Diamond Jubilee day:
“Land of hope and glory, mother of the free
How shall we extol thee, who are born of thee?”
As a British child of the war, I’ve spend a life reading of empire won and lost, of a Churchill standing alone against the dark tide of Nazism, of an England/a UK searching ever since for a new identity — see now the flounderings of Boris, the — to me — disastrous exit from the European Union, and the glory of all those anthems, of the soaring Elgar music, sounding hollow as what was fades into history.
We are, in this new country, this America, facing our own existential question — can we, someone wrote today, save our dysfunctional Congress, where the aim is no longer governance in the public interest, but merely retention of power and privilege? Meantime, everything from homelessness to racial equity to border sanity festers, unresolved.
I hold both passports and wonder often what the USA and UK will become. My own time nears its end somewhere down the calendars to come but I often wish for some vision of future resolution, an outcome that finally honors our best ideas.
In this living moment, let’s give that best outcome a chance, a boost, a saving hand. As said just the other day, let’s vote in 100 days – and find our light again…..