As I sat here tonight, struggling to find a new topic for a new post, I heard the explosions of fireworks from a neighbors’ yard.
Eureka, I thought, Independence Day.
I simply love Independence Day. On the other 364 days a year, I am a pretty glass-half empty person when it comes to national and religious holidays – even at Christmas time. The commercialism and in-your-face tactics of marketers to buy, buy, buy around those holidays wears me down, but believe it or not, on July 4, I look past all that to become the most patriotic asshole to walk on this side of the Mississippi.
I mean, what’s not to love about Independence Day? First of all, it’s a day off of work (I can hear you saying, hell to the yeah to that!). Secondly, red, white and blue has got to be the greatest color combination of all time. It just works, people. Thirdly, you go ahead and tell me that you don’t get a little choked up when you see elderly veterans stand up and salute the flag when you watch “A Capitol Fourth” on PBS (admit it, you know you do). And lastly, I love it because Independence Day is a day when we celebrate with family, friends, food and fellowship for the sacrifices of those who have come before us to make America a decent place to live.
I also know my love of this day came straight from Chapter 8 in Little Town on the Prairie.
After wakening to the sounds of the town’s blacksmith exploding gunpowder on his anvil in the early morning hours, Charles Ingalls embraces the day.
“Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light?” Pa sang.
“Charles!” Ma protested, but she was laughing, because it really was too dark to see.
“It’s nothing to be solemn about!” Pa jumped out of bed.”Hurray! We’re Americans!”
Later when Laura, Pa and Carrie head to town for a small celebration put on by the founding members of the new community, patriotism swells in the heart of Laura.
Laura and Carrie knew the Declaration by heart, of course, but it gave them a solemn, glorious feeling to hear the words. They took hold of hands and stood listening in the solemnly listening crowd. The Starts and Stripes were fluttering bright against the thin, clear blue overhead, and their minds were saying the words before their ears heard them.
“When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”….
Isn’t that just wonderful? I reread that chapter every fourth of July to remind myself that even though the United States of American is far from perfect, it’s still my beloved country.
So, on July 4, I’ll be in my Betsy Ross costume, singing at the top of my lungs to “Yankee Doodle Dandy” with James Cagney, and crying my fake eyelashes off watching the elderly veterans salute the flag on PBS, watching baseball and eating apple pie, and thinking about this wonderful melting pot of cultures, religions, personalities and politics that I call home.
Until next time, I wish you all A Glorious Fourth!
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