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4th of July; What’s the Big Deal Anyway?

Split Rock Fireworks Finale

Split Rock Fireworks Finale

Hot dogs, beer, barbeque, fireworks, and the biggest party of the year. Why? What is the big deal?  These things seem to have become symbolic of “everything American.”  On this day, I cannot help but reflect and ask:  symbols of what?

The original fireworks were not pretty, exhilarating, or festive

Fireworks celebrations are everywhere. What is the significance of fireworks? The original fireworks were not pretty, exhilarating, or festive. They were not integrated with music. Indeed quite the opposite. Canons and muskets and humans who were once fellow countrymen and brothers killing each other over “principle.”  A sobering thought as we contemplate the weekend fireworks display.  And so, it seems to me, that “princple” must have been something pretty darn important to go to war over.

“When in the course of human events …..We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Today is a celebration of the actions of some courageous men with strong convictions, who acted, on behalf of all “Americans” (as we were to be become), to secure “Liberty.” It is a celebration and acknowledgement of the everyday men who, following their Declaration of Independence, fought and died for freedoms which – in modern days – it is difficult not to take for granted. Since then, many men and women have died in numerous wars, beginning with the U.S. Revolutionary war, most of them dying to protect the freedoms once “secured.”

we live in a nation and society where we are free to openly disagree

Recently, there have been some historical developments in our laws and society. No matter which side one takes on some of these issues, what we can all agree upon is that we live in a nation and society where we are free to disagree – openly, with each other, our government and our laws. We have a process in place for resolving our disagreements. It rarely results in a “clear win” for either side. Perhaps that is the strength of the process? But it is designed to be civil. And there is – it seems to me – an element of balance and tolerance. As I assert my rights, I hope that I can always keep in mind how they may impact and limit the rights of others. As I reflect on the meaning of this holiday, it is my hope that no matter how divided our views; no matter how fervent our opinions; that we continue our disagreements civilly and that we respect the right of others to have differing views.

I hope everyone has a happy, safe, and yes – even thoughtful – 4th!

Copyright 2011  Andy Richards

Copyright 2011 Andy Richards

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3 Responses

  1. Andy, I really like your essay. Unfortunately fewer and fewer Americans know the origins of this great nation and political correctness is destroying civility and increasing intolerance.

  2. Well done Andy -we need a lot more civility and mutual respect in our world and here in the US! Happy 4th!

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