As I rush about making preparations for another Independence Day barbeque, I find myself considering all the various meanings that so many people attach to this most American of holidays. July 4th is not just a red letter day on the calendar, a day many of us are granted a paid holiday, or an excuse to display our national flag on the front of homes, offices, and lampposts in public areas. This is officially the day we celebrate our declaration of independence from our colonial roots. As with most holidays, though, the ways and reasons we “party” has grown and taken on new life as the day holds a variety of meanings as divergent as the individuals that make up this country.
Food, Fun and Family.
For many, the Fourth of July is all about spending time with loved ones-outdoors in someone’s backyard or at a nearby park, or even in a pool as the sun reaches its zenith; and of course, the food. Anything and everything that can be cooked on a grill, accompanied by salads, watermelon, and desserts served ala mode to beat the heat. While the food settles in over-full stomachs, the kids may run around with sparklers (have parental supervision, please!) and grownups rouse to challenge each other to games like corn hole and baseball. The perfect ending to a perfect Fourth is fireworks, either set off in backyards or a nearby professional show.
Many citizens will take advantage of their community celebrations today. A mass of parades, fireworks shows and concerts, many free, are available throughout this week, easy to locate from local listings online or in newspapers. Participants should be prepared for sitting in traffic, and expect to share grassy areas with plenty of others seeking the best spots for viewing.
Concerts in the park are a welcome venue, often accompanied by local food vendors who compete for space to have patrons sample their wares. For those who do not wish to venture out, there are always televised events that showcase the beauty of the lights without the need to weather sweltering temperatures and the loud “boom” of the displays.
Celebration and Remembrance.
This is a day to honor and remember servicemen and women who have, and continue to, fight and work to ensure our safety and freedoms. Today we honor the values our nation was built on, and the belief that despite our differences and issues, we still have a strong future ahead. Today, above all days, we stand up and demonstrate our national pride and the certainty that, no matter our politics, religion, or ethnicity, we are all citizens of a free country.
God Bless America!