I understand fully that July 4th is a holiday celebrating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776…having been born in 1976 (bicentennial baby) and having the middle name of Liberty, I can’t get too far without knowing some of the magical stuff about this country. The issue is that I’m a bit of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on the Fourth of July in this era.
What Does July 4th Really Mean?
If we chose to be honest with ourselves, July 4th is all about a day off from work (for many people), beer, booze, grilling, the lake, possibly a boat, and fireworks. The Dr. Jekyll side of me says this is all bullshit and we’re just further proving that we are entitled Americans that are only out for our own well being. However, the Mr. Hyde side of me think s that this is okay, we live in this amazingly diverse, compassionate (proof is when natural disasters happen, look how much Americans jump to help), and beautiful country…why shouldn’t we be able to enjoy the fruits of our labor?
Well, to add to all this, I am utterly disappointed in our political system and our political parties. I’m intensely angry that our system of education is crumbling and seemingly nothing is being done about it. I’m frustrated with so many things but I don’t want to get into all that right now. The point is this, beyond those frustrations I still believe in the greatness of this country…the IDEA of this country…the state of mind. I tear up when the Star Spangled Banner plays or when I see one of those “soldier home from war” stories…I’m proud of the flag and even though I am not a religious person, I like saying “under God” and seeing “In God We Trust” on our money.
This is an amazing place…but I think most of us have forgotten the point, the purpose, the patriotism. I think we need to remember how we felt right after 9/11. We need to remember how we feel when we see those happy stories about soldiers coming home and surprising their kids in school…and more importantly how we feel when we see flag draped coffins arriving back on American soil.
People have died for the luxuries we enjoy. Others keep putting their lives on the line for us to continue having those luxuries. There are men and women that do REAL good every single day they wake up…they work in hospitals, police departments, fire departments, schools, charities, and communities all over this country. This is what America is about. I do not think that July 4th should be a somber day in any way…but when we’re eating our way toward heart burn and drinking our way toward a Thursday morning hangover…I think we should be thinking about how fortunate we are and how We The People should come together to start solving the problems we’re in rather than simply ignoring it, or bickering and finger pointing.
I know we can’t get rid of complaining…I do it daily; but we really need to work toward being more constructive. So the next time we’re irritated that Facebook made a change or that a bird just crapped on the newly washed car…get over it.
Happy 4th of July!