How did you celebrate Independence Day?
Personally, I started it off by exercising my Second Amendment rights at the gun club.
And I ended it by packing an insulated bag and taking a grilled burger and some sides to a relative in the hospital. The hospital served potroast on the 4th of July. Seriously? C'mon people, that's almost communist. LOL
But in between those events, I attended that Great American Institution - the 4th of July Parade down Main Street. ( in our case, it is technically High Street, but who's counting?)
I admit had a bit of a moment when I saw the color guard coming. I remembered that I had ancestors who fought in the Revolution (and even the French and Indian War). I am fortunate that my Great-grandmother compiled some incredible family history during a time when geneaology involved hand written letters to archives, courthouses and historical societies. Because of her efforts, I am lucky enough to know the names of some of these men who were part of our nation's history. Unlike my Great-grandmother, nowadays all people have to do is click the leaf on your family tree, or so the TV ad goes. But I digress.
I had a moment, and even got a little teary-eyed (it's good I had dark sunglasses on), because I remembered my ancestors, and that it was because of their blood and sacrifice that I was even standing there (well, sitting there on the curb, actually). They gave me not only my DNA, but also my Country. I wondered what their aspirations for this nation were, and if we had lived up to them. I also wondered what they would think of this parade, and of me.
After the color guard, there came the usual array of political candidates, fair queens, kids on bicycles and Shriners in clown suits. Police and fire trucks ran their sirens, and classic cars threw the obligatory candy.
By the way, how wierd is that? At what other time do you allow your child to EAT something she picked up out of the street ... that was thrown there by STRANGERS???
Parades make us lose all of our usual boundaries. We wave at strangers and we sit on the curb in the public street. When you are shopping on Main Street at any other time, do you just stop and sit on the curb when you're tired? I bet not. You might be mistaken for a vagrant if you did. Parades are different. It's just strange.
Strange as it is, all of those things are pretty standard Americana. You probably have them in your parades too. But does your parade have buckskin clad guys that fire muskets into the air, and wander down the sidelines with a caged fake skunk that squirts people? Yeah, I thought not. I got squirted by the spraying skunk of freedom, and you didn't - so there! LOL
I'm sure there were parades in my ancestor's time, but I doubt they had squirting mechanical skunks. There might have been buckskins though.
I surely doubt however, that there were fair queens in their time. That would be not only unseemly for the gentler sex to prance about in public, but it would also be glorifying the monarchy. Which brings us back around to the real reason that we celebrate Independence Day on the 4th of July.
The reason we celebrate, is because men like John Peter Hoffman, Peter Heimbach, Leonard Fischer, George Buffington, and Peter Schoffstall fought to get this new independent country started. They assisted at the birth of this grand experiement. These men weren't great orators or signers of the Declaration. They were ordinary citizens and dirt farmers who answered the call with their family muskets in hand. They fought for an idea -- that they owed their allegiance not to any monarch or church leader, but to ideals of self-governance and freedom.
They risked their lives, their property, and the hangman's noose for treason. They risked all - for the freedoms that we now enjoy and take for granted every day. Therefore, Cherish those freedoms. Guard them closely. Exercise them - for a freedom unexercised is a freedom unappreciated. Nourish them. And finally, pass them on to your children undiminished, so that they can thank YOU when it is their turn to be squirted by the spraying skunk of freedom.