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The Gem of the Ocean

Fri, Jul 5th, 2013
Posted in All Commentary

By Eric Leitzen

Now that we’re all coming down off of that special kind of patriotic thrill, you can only get by seeing a bunch of things blow up and hearing the Boston Pops play some John Philip Sousa, it’s time to talk about something a little more heavy about our country. There’s really no better time to broach a subject, as we’re still feeling pretty good about living in a pretty darn good country with a pretty amazing history of being the best country in the world, so it won’t take too much of the edge off if I say something that may be a little… controversial.

America, it’s time we change… our mascot.

Call it a personification, if you will. Or a “historical and poetic name” like Wikipedia does. Or, you could be really pedantic and call it an anthropomorphization of our fair country. Either way, I think it’s about time to change it. As much love as I have for Good Old Uncle Sam, he’s been serving our country quite well for nearly 100 years now, with the famous, “I want YOU” poster dating back to The Great War in 1917. What’s more, Sam has come to stand for a few boondoggles that America has been trying to shake in the recent past: imperialism, militarism, jingoism, and the ever-dreaded American “cowboy” persona.

Uncle Sam was a symbol for an America on the rise, a hungry and square-jawed fighter of a country who needed something tough and rough and ready to make the world safe for Democracy. It made perfect sense for Sam to be seen rolling up his sleeves for the gritty conflict in Japan, or to have his stern glare asking our boys and men to set sail for the Marne or Ypres. And yet, something about this brash, bold, larger than life persona just seems to play into everything that has painted America as some kind of misguided villain, for whatever reasons, abroad and at home.

So what are we, as a country, to present now in this brave new world of awkward alliances with former enemies, a global economy held together on the flimsiest of threads, and a difficult minefield of foreign policy and surveillance revelations? Well, I think it’s time to take a lesson from modern marketing technique and go retro. Yes, it’s time to resurrect Columbia.

Who, you may ask? Or perhaps, you’re asking why I’m suddenly suggesting that the mighty US looks to a South American country for inspiration? Well, actually, Columbia has been a name for this part of the world (named for Christopher Columbus, natch) including both America and the Latin American Republic, which is actually spelled Colombia, surprisingly enough. The name “Columbia” being used for America first showed up in 1738, it seems, and if you’ve ever seen one of those old coins with some mysterious woman on them, it’s probably her. Yes, before America put on its star-spangled top hat and pointed directly at things, America wore a Phrygian cap and portrayed a softer face to the world. This is what America needs to show right now: a proud yet nurturing mother figure, a kind and loving face to anyone and everyone, showing that all are welcome in this country, the best country, to dream and achieve and build the foundations of a world only dreamt of by those who came before.

Sam had a good run, but in the past few decades he’s become a parody and a shadow of his former self, I think it’s time he have some well-deserved time off. Columbia herself hasn’t been seen in almost a century in any real capacity, and with recent events (including a blockbuster video game release featuring her likeness), it seems a fitting time to bring her back. In my own personal opinion I’d like to have a serious talk with Columbia. For one, she’s spent the last 30 years or so dating fairly unscrupulous men who spent all her money, refused to bring in any of their own, and passed most of their time trying to get in fights with the other personifications down at the local watering hole. I believe I may have just in a roundabout way implied that Uncle Sam is dating Columbia, and if that’s the truth the old girl would do well to make Sam stay home for a while so she can take care of business. After all, studies are showing more and more women are the breadwinners in America today…isn’t it time for Columbia to shine again like the jewel she always was?

Plus, it would give me a reason to hear that great musical piece again.

O Columbia! the gem of the ocean,

The home of the brave and the free,

The shrine of each patriot’s devotion,

A world offers homage to thee.

Thy mandates make heroes assemble,

When Liberty’s form stands in view;

Thy banners make tyranny tremble,

When borne by the red, white, and blue.


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9:25:01, Jul 8th 2013

kakapoo says: