Soon, rips of “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy” and the John Philip Sousa march of “Stars and Stripes Forever” will blare out from loudspeakers everywhere, as children run wildly amuck searching ongoing parade routes for tossed candy. Grabbing, unwrapping and eagerly shoving the treats into open mouths with practiced precision—that same candy that they would probably never eat at home, now goes quickly in, while tiny feet scamper to gather more of it.
Intense colors explode one after another across the darkening sky—hazy, smoky residues drifting away from falling, yet still flickering, fingers of light, wafting down toward the crowds gathered below—with oooohhh’s and aaaaahhhs, following every burst.
Yes, here we are, willingly and jubilantly huddled together in sweltering heat and drunken revelers for a celebration so air-shattering that eardrums ring for days afterwards.
Welcome to the 4th of July in America—our own federally subsidized insanity to celebrate a loose band of rebels who stood unwaveringly strong for the right to rule their own destinies—thumbing their noses at the ruling monarchy an ocean away.
From the first musketed-shot on a bridge at Concord, Massachusetts, that downed a farmer defending his land and family from England’s rule, to the latest blasts wherever our military men and women still serve; freedom is something we defend, for ourselves and for others.
So this day becomes THE official day of celebration for freedom-loving people across the land. We celebrate those who were willing to sacrifice their lives so that freedom survived the many attempts at tyranny over almost two-and-a-half centuries.
We join together celebrating the birth of a nation built on freedom and personal liberties.
That’s what the 4th of July is all about: a celebration of our founders foresight and courage to forge a nation based on the principles of inalienable rights to decide our own fates—to be supported and encouraged to think, and talk, and act with unhindered restrictions as long as it was done lawfully and for the betterment of the society we supported.
They were good principles of equal justice and equal opportunity for all—not just for the elite ALL, but for ALL of us; not just for the ruling aristocracy, but for the farmer and the immigrant (because most of us were born to immigrants somewhere down the line); for the shopkeeper as well as the factory worker; for the banker as well as the street-sweeper. Those same principles apply to ALL of us; no matter the gender, no matter the race, no matter the political affiliation and no matter the religious inclinations or marital preferences—those same principles of equal justice and equal opportunity apply to ALL.
That’s why we celebrate.
And that’s what I will keep reminding myself the night of the 4th as the neighbors’ booming blast of firecrackers continues long into the night; those window-rattling booms vibrating against my closed windows making sleep impossible.
We celebrate because we have the right to celebrate: to celebrate our freedoms that didn’t come easily or cheaply at the expense of so many lives given willingly on its behalf throughout the years.
But most importantly, we celebrate because we CAN celebrate, and we’ve earned that hard-fought right to do so. That’s why we DO it.
So have a happy 4th—day and night! And ‘bring it’ neighbors with your annoying booms and bangs at midnight and beyond, because on this night, I’m willing to take it.