Is it the barbecues, picnics, going to the lake, family holidays and fireworks? Well, not really. Is Fourth of July a note to the freedoms we enjoy everyday? Sort of. But really, what does it signify anymore? Is it a time to sell more hotdogs in ads that show us grilling out in our backyard, or simply an excuse to buy three cases of beer for the weekend? What is Fourth of July anymore anyway?
A few days ago, my granddaughter who is six stopped in the living room as the ballgame crowd was singing, God Bless America with hands over their hearts and scenes of the American flag blowing in the breeze over the ballpark. She stood proudly, put her hand over her heart and started singing with them, God Bless America in our living room. And a good friend over for a while sitting to watch the ballgame made a comment of embarrassment that would have shamed her for doing it. And I said, “well sometimes, something has to be important.” That’s true. It can’t be that we are all to sophisticated to join and support respect for our country and what it stands for.
And for days now, that scene rolls about in my mind, of my granddaughter innocently and grandly showing her patriotism in the safety of her own space joining with others on the tele box at the ballgame doing the same thing. And, more and more, I’ve thought about those few minutes of our friend’s reaction being so out of place and bizarre in a sense, and yet, understandable in a time when overt shows of pride in our nation are not for the modern and sophisticated every day person (unless at the ballgame in person or at some public rally specific to it.)
And, I’ve thought about the freedoms to do what we would choose in our own homes, how it is very bizarre for it to be socially unacceptable to stand and sing the National Anthem or America the Beautiful, to join in saying the Pledge of Allegiance, to salute for a parade of soldiers on the tele (even in person at the parade), or to put hand over heart and stand when appropriate to the event we are watching on the TV singing with the National Anthem as the crowd does. How bizarre a lack of freedom that is, in the very country where those freedoms have been fought for, paid for, died for, won for and firmly established. Really, that is strange.
As I think about it, I’m reminded of a recent conversation with one of my daughters in their late 20’s who told me when I was designing tshirts for the Fourth of July and things with the American flag on them, that it has been unpopular and not trendy to wear a shirt with the American flag on it for the Fourth of July. And, yesterday she explained that most people don’t want to wear or carry things in red, white and blue for the Independence Day events, whether it is a headband, party sunglasses, hats or a stick with streamers on it.
I’m not sure if this is true because around the Fourth of July weekend there is lots of those things sold, but maybe it is unpopular or has been recently unpopular for people to embrace those things to use for celebrating the Fourth as an expression of their love for America. Maybe it is okay to have red, white and blue balloons attached to the mailbox to show their barbecue is happening in the backyard for the Fourth of July, but not to wear a shirt that shows those colors or an American flag or says USA. That is bizarre too.
It’s as if we’ve all taken on that contempt found in TV shows’ character dialogs and one-liners that belittles and shames all things expressing our belief in something important and of expressing any feeling of caring about something.important. So is it easier to not engage the moment and express those feelings of oneness with our nation, our pride of place and honor for those who’ve fought to defend it, than to risk being vilified and demeaned even in our own homes for doing it? Really? To be called crazy for standing up and singing the National Anthem or God Bless America even in our own homes – in the privacy of our own homes? Is that what it is to live in this great nation of ours, that even in our own homes, we don’t actually enjoy THAT freedom?
NO. Sometimes, some things have to be important – fashionable or not. It is, in my estimation, not trendy, not fashionable AND it is not sane to belittle anyone as they do on TV shows, sitcoms and even the kid’s shows. It isn’t funny, no one is laughing at it anymore – not for many years now, and despite the popularity of re-running things to hell and back, those dialogs are not the real dialogs between real people in real lives, nor would we ever want them to be. Their ideas of my patriotism and expressions of it cannot be what works in my house nor the definition of what goes in my house and what my choices are for my house. And, it shouldn’t be either, that social conventions described by popular TV sitcoms, reality shows and animated adult humor shows choose our expressions of or reactions to patriotic feelings being expressed, or any damn thing else for that matter.
What Fourth of July means to me is that we all stop for a moment and say together in one voice that it matters, that what has been fought for, defended, protected, lives lost for, tremendous efforts made for and hard won to be a nation of freedom and full human rights honored and protected for everyone – matters. And, that we all agree despite everything on which we disagree – that the United States of America is more than a legacy, that it is ours and together we promise to protect what she stands for , to further what she offers to all, to strengthen and keep her safe from those who would destroy her, and to continue her grand ideals of freedoms and inalienable human rights, opportunities to thrive and equality today and in the future.
And, Fourth of July means that we will honor those efforts made that came before we were ever part of this great nation, to hold her dear, value her ideals, cherish her strengths and make her stronger still.
And frankly, I don’t care what tshirt anyone wears and whether it has an American flag on it or not for the Fourth of July holiday events. I am proud to say that my America lets you wear what you damn well please and I’m an American who supports your freedom and rights to do so. That is what matters.
I pledge allegiance, to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible with Liberty and Justice for ALL. – means we agree on some things being important, despite the many things on which we disagree. It is our duty, our responsibility AND our honor to uphold these Truths noted in the beginning of our Declaration of Independence and structured to be protected by our US Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Some things simply do have to be important. And sometimes, we really do have to show that it matters. Happy Fourth of July!