July 4th is the day we declared independence from the tyranny of the English crown, 245 years ago, which eventually, after much argument, negotiation and an eight-year war, led to the formation of the United States.
By now, of course, we've forgotten much of what we're celebrating. Most of us have no ancestors who were there at the time. At least, I don't. In 1776 my forebears were scratching out a meager existence on the periphery of Europe.
Many Americans just use July 4th as an excuse to enjoy a long weekend and go to the beach or have a barbecue. Others may even harbor resentments about the holiday, as a symbol of how their parents or grandparents were treated when they arrived on these shores . . . African Americans, obviously, but also Asians, Italians, Latinos, Irish, Eastern Europeans.
I blame the English -- not the English of England, but the English of America, many of whom, egged on by PBS and other anglophiles, still think they are better than the rest of us.
Sure, I have an abstract appreciation of what our Founding Fathers did. But I have no direct, emotional connection. Neither do I hold a grudge against the people who thought less of my ancestors because they were just off the boat -- maybe because my grandparents were able to join the great American middle class.
So July 4th means different things to different people. For me, I'll admit, I mostly enjoy the fireworks, the parade and the parties.
|61% of us own an American flag|
To Meryl Baer, who retired to a beach town in New Jersey, it means the arrival of tourists. "Folks love three-day holiday weekends and particularly the long summer weekends -- especially this year with the launch of post-Covid life." So in Holiday Happenings she offers her view of the crowds packing her shore town, and reveals when she and her husband like to venture onto the sand.
For Laurie Stone it's A Different Kind of Fourth. She remembers sitting in a veteran's hospital with her dad. He gives a weak cheer when he learns the Yankees won. Nathan's is holding its annual hotdog-eating contest. The heat outside is record-breaking. And his Parkinson's is progressing.
Carol Cassara looks at the broader landscape and worries that Something's Going On and It's Not Good. She sees how the Covid lockdown has cost us, as we feared doing something as simple as going to the grocery store or eating at a restaurant. It's easy to stay cocooned, she says, but fear and anxiety prowl our world, and we need to do something about them.
On a more personal note, Rebecca Olkowski with babyboomster.com asks: Have You Lost Interest in Love Now That You're Older? She has some ideas about how to enjoy being on your own, how to discover who you really are, and how to enjoy being yourself for a while.
Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, offers Facts and Figures for July 4th, 2021. Her pictogram shows, sadly, that only 42% of us are "extremely proud" to be American, compared to 70% in 2003 -- yet paradoxically 61% of us own an American flag.
Jennifer of Untold and Begin asks What Does Success Look Like to You? She suggests a couple of ways to focus not on the kind of success that looks good to the world, but the kind of success that will make you happy.
Finally, I want to mention a blog I ran across from Wealth Legacy Institute, a financial advisory firm based in Denver and managed by women. The company specializes in financial planning, of course, but also publishes a blog that covers retirement. The latest post Pinpoint Your Passions -- Opportunities for Volunteering in Retirement offers some concrete advice as well as links to several organizations doing meaningful work.
Because in my opinion, the American Way that we can all believe in, no matter what our ethnic, political or social stripe, is how we help each other out, whether it's volunteering for our fire department, sponsoring an exchange student, running for local office, sharing our lives with other people through a church or community organization. These are the things -- perhaps even more than national holidays -- that bring us together, make us a community, and produce real pride in America.