Happy (early) 4th of July!
…or rather, Happy Independence Day, everyone! Happy Birthday to America, the land of the free! Maybe our Founding Fathers will be disappointed in the way we celebrate this holiday today, and perhaps even moreso, because some may have forgotten the actual purpose of this holiday: America is free from her mother country, England, after all of the conflicts of “taxation without representation” and among other grievances as listed by the 13 colonies in the Declaration of Independence. If we didn’t “fight for our freedom and rights,” we’d probably be under England’s authority (and government) much longer than 1776.
And we probably wouldn’t have written these famous lines we know so well today (from the Declaration of Independence):
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…
It isn’t all about the booze and our concept of another fireworks-filled holiday with the “drink, and be merry” motto, but the fact that America, to many people, really is the land of the free. Generations of families have come here to start a better life without oppression and discrimination. For others, to actualize the dreams of opportunities and chances they weren’t able to have in their homelands as well as to overcome hardships. Whatever the reason, we are not only celebrating independence, but diversity, for America is home to many races, cultures and ethnic groups. Oftentimes, we take for granted that out of this independence comes diversity in people. Sadly, even today, some people still encounter and harbor prejudices from and against others… And sometimes I wonder: when will it all end?
Anyway, I once asked a kid who was about 9-10 years old what the 4th of July meant to her.
“It’s all about the firecrackers,” she said.
“That’s it?” waiting to see if she was going to elaborate.
“Well… It’s Independence Day, so America is free, right?” she smiled.
“Yeah…” I answered absentmindedly.
Well, what do you know, maybe our Founding Fathers would be disappointed in us. The first thing that comes to mind for the 4th of July is firecrackers, followed by booze (I asked lots of people). Perhaps the full patriotic feeling of freedom has been lost or significantly diminished over the centuries, but I hope we will continue, not only as Houstonians but as Americans, to always remember an important holiday like the 4th of July, especially that this freedom is something cherished. Many countries, especially “Third World countries,” do not have this privilege; so we shouldn’t be complaining (at least not too much)!
Finally, Francis Scott Key didn’t write “bombs bursting in [the] air” for no real reason in “The Star-Spangled Banner.” This song was written for America and its people and their fight for freedom.
I hope that with all the picnics, barbeque, parades, fireworks and booze will remind us that this holiday is more than the festivities we have planned, but the people we share our lives with, the things we do for others, and the diversity we have through freedom in America–the things we sometimes take for granted. I hope everyone takes this holiday (or this week) to ponder about how America, though not perfect, has come a long way to really be a country for people to take pride in, to make it a better place for younger generations and for future generations to come.
Happy 4th of July once again! Stay safe and be careful not to burn firecrackers within city limits! You can get fined for that and violate some safety hazards!
*Note: Photo courtesy of Al Ruscelli Photography.