July 4th, 230 years later
If the President uses his annual State of the Union speech before Congress as a kind of report-card, then the 4th of July seems the perfect time for we citizens to chip in our opinions?
It’s a day of sunburns, over-stimulated small children, dads in shorts lining the parade route with their youngest on their shoulders and the old folks arranged in the front row, their lawn-chairs dotting the curb along Main Street. There will be lawn-mower drill-teams, a Model-A roadster or two and someone’s lovingly restored Packard convertible.
Flags borne by blonde cowgirls on skittish palominos, the mayor in a ’38 Buick, floats pulled by tractors, pickups full of jazz quartets and queens of this and that, fill out the first couple of blocks. Then come the kids on bikes, red, white and blue crepe-paper woven in the spokes. The VFW will march and more than a few will hobble, but they will be there, paying tribute to a country they fought for. The high-school band will do their thing, as Boosters and Lions and Kiwanis march or ride motorcycles or hang out on a float, showing off their wives and daughters. There may be a sky-diver, there is rumor of one.
It’s a grand tradition, celebrating a grand country, an orgy of flags hung from windows and porches or tied to the antennae of cars. Firecrackers keep most dogs home, quivering under the dining-room table. It’s not a day for dogs.
So, how are we this year, as a nation? Veering, I would say. We’ve been veering for six years now and, Republican or Democrat, we’ve been tried as few generations can remember. But my sense of it is that we’re veering back to the old, base, core values that are so boringly, simply American.
We’re tired out a bit from prolonged anxiety, sunburned by sustained messages of fear within an otherwise unfearful nation, but it feels like we’re back in the saddle—or at least we’ve sized-up the horse. America is letting out a 4th of July breath it’s been holding for five years and it feels pretty good.
On Main Street and Central Street and Elm Street, we’ve collectively written another love-letter to America. There will be naps for the kids, water for the dog and a quiet barbecue with friends before heading out to the fairgrounds or down to the lake for fireworks.
They’re beautiful, always a little awe-inspiring. We hug our kids to us and look up.