As a kid growing up in a very different America than what we have today, my very favorite holiday was always The 4th of July. Note I don’t call it Independence Day. Despite herculean efforts on the part of my parents, teachers and sundry wizened old farts who tried to teach us kids what the occasion really marked each year, my crowd simply saw it as a red letter day during which we were least likely to catch hell for raising hell.
School was out, the weather was toasty, people gathered to eat, drink and relax while watching spectacular fireworks displays. And what was the purpose, the meaning and the history behind those dazzling displays that flooded local parks with great clouds of cordite fumes and gunpowder residue? Who cared? This was a singular time of year; noise was tolerated, bedlam reigned out of sight and reach of workaday adult supervision. No amount of lecturing or speechifying about the importance of the day in our national history ever put a damper on our liberty to run, play, sweat, scream and randomly gorge ourselves at picnic tables without fear of repercussion much beyond half-hearted warnings not to damage each other too badly.
As anyone who has survived long enough to become an adult in America knows, age has a sobering effect and some of us even moderate our behavior as we grow older. Along the way from unfettered hellion to grumpy adult we become more educated, by osmosis and life experience if not in more formal fashion. We still have picnics and gawp at fireworks but there’s a different perspective to 4th of July celebrations. Some of us come to understand the celebrations are designed to mark the birth of a great nation and that we are blessed to be citizens of same. Those of us who were fortunate enough to grow up in a time when subjects like Civics and American History were pivotal parts of American education actually read the Declaration of Independence signed by representatives of the original thirteen colonies on 4 July 1776. Some of us were even required to memorize those immortal words that define our American character.
“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; That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.”
Those are powerful words expressing timeless ideals. They define us…or should do so as we claw and scratch our way into the future. I like to think those words mark us as a special nation composed of special people who inherently understand concepts such as inalienable rights, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And I think it will be the concepts expressed in those words that will eventually defeat aberrant definitions applied to them by the PC-Nazis and social manipulators among us. Those are the grumpy adults ordering us not to celebrate the 4th of July with firecrackers…and if we do, to refer to them as fire-Caucasians to avoid being racist or exclusionary.
There’s enough of the little hellion remaining in me to defy that. In the spirit of our founding fathers on this Independence Day 2013, I’ll just re-read the words of our Declaration of Independence. And I’ll do it with bombs bursting in air and by the rocket’s red glare.