Patriotism seems out of fashion these days, done in by fatigue, military over-saturation, and the economic war on the homefront.  The news is full of sensationalism and Obama this-and-that and the ongoing semantic challenges between Fox and MSNBC as they attempt to parse the true meaning of health-care reform; everyone is on edge and no one has any money, jobs that once paid 65K a year are now going to college interns who can mash up a bit of XML, and people are lining up to apply for minimum-wage jobs at a brand-new Dunkin’ Donuts.  Bag-boy PhD’s are working at Publix, making sure loaves of bread aren’t squished by bottles of Pepsi.

Plastics are very bad for you, as is Teflon.  It’s a scary world we live in now, and who is to say if and when it will improve?  The national mood seems to swing between fear and resilience, and if we seem a bit frayed around the edges it’s because most of us are still wondering how we let America get away from us.

It’s no surprise that patriotism gets lost in the shuffle.  It’s the last thing I find myself thinking about when I buy a three-dollar tank of gas. This is why surprise reminders of patriotism are, well, such a surprise, especially in the unlikeliest of places.

If you’re going to rally ’round the flag, what better place to do it than in Homosassa, where we find our national symbol looking hale and well rested at Homosassa Springs?  I suspect the birds’ wings may be clipped, leading to a dejected metaphor for the state of the nation in general.  This realization doesn’t detract from the swell of pride you get when you see the simple staging of the eagle exhibit; the birds sit in a fenced enclosure with the American flag as a backdrop.  Whoever thought up this staging is a genius.  It is low-budget as it can be, yet it reminds us that even at a wildlife park we should all remember that we are Americans and that we ought to be proud of it, even when surrounded by foreign tourists rushing to get a good look at an alligator.

Down the road from Homosassa Springs, another sign of patriotism waves in the breeze atop a sign advertising smoked mullet.  The incongruity of this advertisement made me have newfound hope for where this country is headed.  Talk about national spirit!

Once again, my camera fails me.  This close-up of the Bird Americanus was taken by David Ballard, who graciously allowed me to use it here.