Independence Day is casually referred to as July 4th. It is an excuse to light up the sky with fireworks. In my neighborhood, it is also cause for an annual debate regarding the aforementioned fireworks. Rule followers remind people it is against the law within city limits. Freedom lovers point out it isn’t hurting anyone. The arguments are simultaneously tedious, aggravating, and funny. Inevitably, someone calls the police, someone gets a warning, and we spend a week debating who did what wrong.
It is the irony the whole situation that gets me. We should be celebrating the anniversary of independence from a tyrannical government. We should be celebrating our continuing freedoms. Instead, we complain about minor laws, minor lawbreakers, and forget that this holiday is about so much more than a day away from work.
In 2017, I had the opportunity to visit the Old State House in Boston. My first visit to Boston was short but amazing. A lover of history, being in a building that witnessed so much was powerful. Just outside, a large medallion is embedded in the street. It is a reminder of the Boston Massacre. Hidden amidst the modern skyscrapers, a church spire from which signal lanterns were to be hung. Across the way, a towering obelisk marking the Battle of Bunker Hill.
Maybe it is easier to remember what you learn of American History while standing in a place like the Old State House. Unfortunately, I think it is more likely that my love of history gave it more meaning than most see. These days, we are far too embedded in, “What’s in it for me?” to truly consider how we got to today.
I hope you get to celebrate Independence Day in your favorite way and with your favorite people. Enjoy the time with friends and family. I would encourage you to take a few moments to stop and reflect. Consider the patriots who stood up for generations to come, giving us this chance to live in such a country as this. It is far from perfect, but it is ours. For every dark moment, there are dozens of bright, shining moments when we have truly served as a beacon of hope.
As to those neighborhood fireworks, I simply ask that you be mindful of those around you. Some of your neighbors may be veterans for whom the sound of colorful explosions are not the sounds of celebration. I know it is only “one night a year”, but they’ve already given up their fair share of peaceful nights to surrender yet one more to those who decide they’d rather have fun than observe city ordinances.