I was in DC a couple weeks ago, and decided to go across the Memorial Bridge from DC proper to Arlington National Cemetery, (among other things, I was looking for the grave of an Army buddy who'd been killed long ago by, of all things, a "dud" round: that's a story for another time) and was struck by something I saw: At the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was a guy of about 40 or so in a Donald Duck tee shirt, sneakers and short pants, clicking away on a noisy camera during the Changing of the Guard. Looking at this clown, I had a series of thoughts:
1. Lordy, I hope that guy isn't from California.
2. Um, dude? You're in public. You realize that, right?
3. That guy is dressed in clothing that used to characterize the clothing worn by young children.
4. Somewhere back there in the national dust, maybe we left a sense of formality and respectability that might be worth resurrecting.
I think the striving for informality that began in the late 1960s started out as a needed reaction against a certain stuffy priggishness that obtained in 1950s America. I think a case could be made that perhaps things have gone too far in the other direction.