Posts Tagged With: 4th of July

The Annual 4th of July Post

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I’m going to preface this entry by saying that I’m a closet rampant Christian.  Or, not closet exactly… I just believe that there’s many ways to reach God and that Christianity is a good one, but I know it doesn’t work for everyone as amazingly well as it works for me. So, I tend to keep quieter than some.  I mean, it’s not like you’re NOT gonna hear the message of Jesus in America today…

I’m putting in this preface because I’m going to get a little religious on you at the end.

I’ve been feeling like a big fuddy-duddy this year about the 4th of July, and if I’m feeling it you better believe it’s bad.  I’m usually all about breaking out the tricorn hat and ’76 flag while humming Stars and Stripes Forever and carrying a sparkler. But America IS NOT living up to what it should be in ways so profound that I’m not even sure we qualify as a democracy at this point.  A fascist oligarchy? Maybe.  Democracy?  I don’t know.  I’m hoping we can get back to a semblance of democracy soon.

I’ve always been a proponent of the fact that the 4th of July is a day to revel in the promise of America, the US that never actually can be because it’s an ideal.  It’s a day to party it up, think of freedom and founding fathers, listen to a little fife music, and gain stamina for the fight to make the actual US match the fantasy US.  If we bathe in the America that could be for a day, we can better work towards that actuality in the coming year. A little bit closer, the years bending toward justice.

I just didn’t want to do that this year.   I see the country standing for so much hatred to the point where we’re not even acknowledging the humanity of children.  Where do we even go from here? Is there a bottom lower than this one?  I don’t want there to be.  I didn’t want to ponder or celebrate America at all right now.

Still, in church this morning we had a little America celebration.  We sang My Country ‘Tis Of Thee and America The Beautiful among other things.  The sermon was on making apologies for deep wrongs.  I sat in that sanctuary, sang all the verses, and found that maybe I did feel okay about celebrating the 4th after all.  Because the Founding Fathers knew that this was a fraught experiment with potential for abuse, but they also knew their scrappy citizens who cling to liberty with both hands.

I want to point you to two verses in each of the songs from this morning:

O beautiful for heroes proved, in liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee.
Till selfish gain no longer stain, the banner of the free!

Our fathers’ God to Thee, Author of liberty, To Thee we sing. Long may our land be bright, With freedom’s holy light, Protect us by Thy might, Great God our King.

I think that this 4th is going to be more of a religious holiday for me this year.  I’ll be praying for everyone to be crowned with brotherhood, for selfish gain to no longer stain the banner of the free, for God to protect us with freedom’s holy light.  I’m hoping that the fireworks will shine like a benediction on these prayers on Wednesday night as they light up the firmament.

And then on the 5th, I’m going to fight like hell again to secure the blessings of liberty for myself and my posterity.

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4th of July, with Song

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I usually get a little sappy around the 4th of July, but this year I haven’t had the time.  I cannot believe that the holiday is coming up so quickly.  Where has all the time gone?  I am not nearly prepared enough to don my tricorn hat and revel in the streets while fireworks boom.  I haven’t pondered large thoughts about America and patriotism.  I haven’t made an all-Sousa playlist on Spotify that I can cook to.

Speaking of songs on the 4th of July… I’m gonna post some song lyrics for you to enjoy instead of doing a sappy post.  Collecting strange songs and lyrics to things we’ve forgotten have any is a hobby of mine.  I can sing you the words to Pomp and Circumstance, to Stars and Stripes Forever.  I know songs about lemon trees and following rainbows.  And I also know a cadre of inappropriate lyrics to traditional songs.  I will give this gift to you on the birthday of our nation:

When everyone else is singing God Bless America, you, my friend, can be singing God Bless My Underwear.

God bless my underwear

My only pair

Stand beside it, and guide it

Through the holes, and the rips, and the tears.

*

Through the washer,

Through the dryer,

On the clothesine,

Everywhere.

*

God bless my underwear

My only pair

God bless my underwear

My only pair.

Only quality things at the Hamilton residence.  Bonus points if someone knows the harmony and/or can do a good Kate Smith impression.  Have fun, be safe, and consume way too much sugar for me.  I’ll see you next Tuesday.

Categories: Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Some Thoughts on the 4th:

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I get a little nutty about the 4th of July.  I have a tricorn hat I bought in Concord, MA that I drag out specifically for the 4th every year.  I have a ’76 flag that I run up, and this year we added a host of bunting to the front of the garage.  Every time there is a Sousa song, I cheer.  I ALWAYS sing along to Stars and Stripes Forever.  Put a sparkler in my hands and let me run free, and I’m the happiest lady ever.

I’ve been seeing all these things online this year, though, that make it seem like celebrating the 4th when this country needs so much  improvement is somehow blasphemous.  Or silly.  Or just not right somehow.  Like if you want to do it, especially if you’re going balls-to-the-wall, you’re what’s wrong with escapist America.

I consider myself a realist when it comes to things.  I don’t want to bury my head in the sand and forget that Black people are dying unnecessarily, or that it took a Supreme Court case to insure an entire segment of the population could get married, or miss the argument that there is any merit at all to consider flying the Confederate flag over a government building.  I want to debate drone strikes, gun control, and privacy laws.  I want to look at all the ways America has not measured up to her promise and work to fix those things.

On every other day than the 4th of July.

I realize that this is probably controversial.  But here is why:

Say what you like about how our country operates in practice, but it’s a pretty amazing idea.  Before people like John Locke, it was just CRAZY to think that people had any rights at all.  And here is our country, founded on the principle that people deserve to be able to seek happiness, attempting to guarantee that you can associate with anyone you choose without repercussions, and ensuring you can say whatever you want to and about whomever you want.  There is something beautiful in there.  And when you add in all the crazy stories of the regular folks who made this thing a reality, it gets even better.  Like, to the point where I get a little leaky around the eye (I’m not crying – you’re crying).

To me, the Fourth is a time to think of all these things.  It’s time to revel in the stories of these Founding Fathers, to look at the principles they passed down, and to celebrate that they’ve made it in this world for another year.  The Fourth isn’t about reality.  It’s not about what America is.  It’s about what America could be.  Fly the flag, wear a bald eagle or a tricorn hat, muster on the green, go in search of fireworks.  Bathe in patriotism like a pig in mud.

Then, take all that idealism and use it on July 5th.  There’s plenty of stuff out there to fix, and with a renewed fervor for freedom, it becomes all the easier to see what those things are.  It becomes easier to want to change them.

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The 4th

It is not quite the Fourth of July, but already the town is gearing up for the annual house decorating contest.  The prize is quite nice: several hundred dollars, your picture in the local paper, and a ride down Indian Hill on the back of a convertible behind a group of baton-twirling teens.  Lots of people enter.  Past winners prove that unless your house looks like Uncle Sam vomited stars and stripes across your entire property, you aren’t getting anything.  Tasteful is not in the vocabulary of the selection committee.  Tasteful guarantees failure. 

There is a real contender on the way to my grandfather’s house.  Swags of bunting hang from the garage and over the doorway.  Full flags swing in the breeze from the rafters of the house, and they have purchased white vinyl banners that proclaim “God Bless America.”  One is pointed north and the other south, so that all directions of traffic can see them gleaming.  Their lawn is lined with flags suck upright in the earth.  These are not the small flags people put on picnic tables or wave in their hand.  These flags are over four feet long, fluttering high in the breeze like some nightmarish fence.

“Oh my God,” said Brian when we drove past.  “I can’t even… there are just no words for it.”

“It’s the contest,” I said, “and that’s hilarious!”

“Hilarious is not the word I would use,” said Brian.

“Ok, how about ‘Murica,” I said. 

But secretly, I sympathize with them.  There is only one time a year that my embarrassing enthusiasm for the Revolutionary War is allowed full flower, and that is July.  I will hang out my reproduction ’76 flag, pull my tricorn hat over my curls, and prepare to spend most of the day singing Stars and Stripes Forever.  The only thing that would make this holiday better is cannons. I stop at full displays in the yard, but I understand the impulse.

I could not find the owner of the quote, but somebody said “Patriotism is love of one’s country, despite one’s leaders.” Isn’t it nice, for just one day, to put aside all feelings about the government and just revel in the well-worn, tacky symbols of our origin?  If there was ever a time for this sort of display, the time is now.   I’ll be searching for shoe buckles next week.

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