Friday, July 4, 2008

Our Fourth of July

“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.”
- From the preamble to the United States Declaration of Independence, adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776

I looked back to last July to see what image I had posted for last year’s Independence Day. As I read through what I had written, I decided to re-post it today. Why? It says exactly what I feel, remember and think about every year, on this important day.

"As a child, on the Fourth of July, I used to do a little pageant/musical presentation with our family friends T & E. T was a year older than me and E a year younger than me. At twilight, we would put patriotic, all-American music on the big console style Magnavox stereo and blast it out into the backyard from my parents’ living room. We three girls would sing and march around and then for the grand finale we would light sparklers. I don’t think sparklers were illegal back then. They were so darned exciting and magical - little handheld fireworks that lasted a surprisingly long time. We would write our names in the gathering darkness, while our appreciative audience of parents and grandparents would laugh, applaud and sing along.

One year, I set up an Independence Day display in the dining room. I remember I took a little black cast iron pot from the fireplace and had small flags from all over the world sticking out of it. It was supposed to represent the melting pot which was the United States. I also had informational cards with quotes from The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and The Bill of Rights. I probably walked every adult through every detail of my American history project! Lord, they were patient and kind people!

I grew up believing in everything pertaining to the Revolutionary War, the founding of our nation and the brilliant fundamental beliefs that a group of intelligent, savvy and ever so wise men drew up. I believed that our country and our founding documents were quite miraculous. Not in a religious sense, but in an intense alchemy of time and place and persons. I felt blessed, lucky, fortunate to be who I was, living where I was and in the time I lived. Vietnam and Civil Rights and Nixon swirled about my childhood and were discussed in my religion class five days a week, in my post Vatican II parochial school. But the ethics of that newly modern religion were inextricably linked to the ethics of the United States founding fathers and informed my moral compass forever.

I may not have had a history display set up yesterday, nor did we have any of those delightful sparklers in hand. But I cried watching dozens of brand new United States Citizens being sworn in. I applauded the fireworks and the cannons of the 1812 overture and my heart still beat faster at the sight of the American flag, at full staff, rippling in the muggy July air. Those who read Pink Granite regularly know my anger and sadness over the current state of affairs in this country. Now you know a little more about how I came to feel so passionately about such things."

--- As posted on Pink Granite July, 5, 2008

Image of The Declaration of Independence courtesy of The National Archives.

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