To be in Bestor Plaza, on the grounds of the Chautauqua Institution, for lunch on the 4th of July is to conjure Norman Rockwell, to capture a quintessential American moment like a dozen jarred fireflies to cast light against the darkness. Picnic baskets and checkered blankets framed by a true village green, with a community band playing patriotic favorites from a corner bandstand as the young and old alike clap and sway, singing and whistling our country’s independence into the new year. Sure, it’s quirky in the post-MTV age of world crisis on a 30-minute cable television loop. The affair is decidedly low-tech and unapologetically nostalgic, but as I watch the little kids waving the flags in a loose parade formation, I ask myself if patriotism is a dying art. Where else will the kids learn the words to the old standards like “America” and “This Land is My Land,” verses that are leaking from the consciousness of their parent’s generation, replaced by the dogma of reactionary talk radio and pseudo-journalistic purveyors of evangelical punditry. Where else will future generations hear “Stars and Stripes Forever” and imagine that such a statement has and will require sacrifices large and small if our experiment with democracy is to endure.