It’s almost a week late (wow I’m the actual worst lol), but happy Independance Day everyone. In the midst of all the festivities I couldn’t help but remember the time that we asked my little brother, probably twelve or thirteen-years-old at the time, what the other name for the Fourth of July is, and what we celebrate on that day every year. He sat there for a couple of minutes thinking and couldn’t come up with an answer. A quality homeschool education at work, folks. We were finally able to jog his memory with references to the books he’d read in school and probably a couple to National Treasure as well, but I think that this situation pinpoints the issue we Americans all too frequently have when we celebrate the Fourth of July each year.
This year was my first Fourth of July both spent away from home and spent in Texas. And my do those Texans pull out all the stops to show their patriotism for that one day. I lost track of how many American flags I passed on the three-minute drive to my friend’s house last night. But the next day, all of those flags have been put away in boxes to be saved for next year’s decorations. I just think it’s funny that we can call ourselves patriotic by stringing up a few decorations, grilling hot dogs, and firing explosives into the sky, all without mention of what we’re actually supposed to be celebrating.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a part of the problem. I wore a crop top with an American flag on the breast pocket with a red, white, and blue flannel tied around my waist. My best friend grabbed her camera and took fun, patriotic-themed pictures. We bought Roman candles, we roasted marshmallows, we lit sparklers and took cute aesthetic pictures together, and we cheered as we watched the fireworks explode in pinks and greens across the sky.
Not once did we talk about the reason we were doing all of these things. Not once did the men who risked their lives to secure our liberty, or the founding fathers who dedicated their lives to forming a nation built to protect freedom and basic human rights. Not once did we express how grateful we are that we were born into this country where we’re allowed to do, say, wear, and read what we want.
Not once did we mention what my brother forgot–that moment 241 years ago when fifty-six men picked up a pen and signed their names on the document that guaranteed their death if they did not win the war. Of course it’s not just about the founding fathers. It’s about every person, regardless of when they lived and what gender or race they were and which political party they aligned themselves with, who has fought to secure the liberties that we continue to have as Americans.
Political beliefs aside, I really hated the campaign slogan “Make America Great Again.” America never stopped being great. We’re such a young country, and yet we’re the world’s greatest superpower. We were founded on previously unheard-of ideas while being laughed at across the pond, and yet it worked. We established a huge, beautiful, powerful country that protected justice and freedom for each one of its citizens. Sure our politics can get real messy. Sure there’s a thousand other issues we and the rest of the world like to make fun of “Murica” for. But none of that changes what America is at its core, what it was when it was founded all those years ago, and what it forever will be.
There was a brief moment there as I was walking out to my car before all of the festivities began that I said a quick prayer of thanks that God decided to place me in this country. I played the Hamilton soundtrack and marvelled over everything He did to help our founding fathers sculpt the United States into this beautiful and revolutionary nation. God has done some incredible things through you, America, and I believe He’ll continue to do so.
The Fourth of July should be the one day a year that we can all gather together, ignoring our party alignments and controversial political views, and just be thankful for the fact that we get to live in this incredible country. And of course shoot off fireworks and crack open a cold one with the boys, too.