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This Independence Day, when our fellow countrymen and women are off half-way around the world fighting to restore human rights and dignity in multiple countries (Bosnia, Afganistan, Iraq, Sudan (soon?)), I feel more emotionally wrapped up in the status of our nation than I have for many a year. As a nation we were stunned by the punch thrown at us by religous extremists on September 11, 2002 and we are still reeling from the effects. There are new rules to the post 9/11 world and we have to learn them as we go along.

What does this have to do with Disney, you ask? Well for many Americans when they think Disney they think Patriotism. Main Street USA at the Magic Kingdoms, WWII movies, the patriotic finale of the fireworks show (now lost to modern fireworks technology), and so much more of what Disney means to America is tied up in patriotism.

Two recently published books have their own take on this relationship. I haven’t had a chance to read either, but if you feel like purchasing one from my Amazon Wish List, I’d appreciate it.

The first, How to Be Like Walt: Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your Life, is the latest biography of Walt Disney in a long chain that started in the 1930s. Part of a larger series of “character biographies” from two inspirational writers, H2BLW looks at the events and inspirations in Walt’s life that led him to his particular set of beliefs. Here’s a quote from the book flap:

“How to Be Like Walt is a fitting tribute to Walt’s memory and an important contribution to the Disney legacy . . . Now more than ever, we need people with the qualities Walt had: optimism, imagination, creativity, leadership, integrity, courage, boldness, perseverance, commitment to excellence, reverence for the past, hope for tomorrow, and faith in God.” —Art Linkletter

The second book, From Walt to Woodstock: How Disney Created the Counterculture, promises to be an academic look at how many of Walt’s ideas have helped todays progressives think about the future. Here’s a quote from the publisher’s website: “With his thumbprint on the most ubiquitous films of childhood, Walt Disney is widely considered to be the most conventional of all major American moviemakers. The adjective “Disneyfied” has become shorthand for a creative work that has abandoned any controversial or substantial content to find commercial success. But does Disney deserve that reputation?”

One more quick thing, if you haven’t heard of the Cast Member recognition program known as “What Would Walt Do?” then you’re missing out on one of the best programs for keeping the spirit of Walt Disney active in today’s world. A few years ago WWWD collected some choice quotes from Walt that reflect his feelings on patriotism and freedom.