On July 1, I posted my thoughts about the state of things as we were about to go into this year’s Fourth of July weekend. Now, a week after the Fourth, I thought I would take time reflect back on our Independence Day.
In a sense, there really isn’t much to reflect back on. Afterall, we really couldn’t do much. But that, in and of itself, is perhaps the impetus for having had the most meaningful Fourth of July ever, in spite of not having the most memorable.
The highlight of activity for my Fourth this year was being a docent for the reopening of Dansville Area Historical Society’s museum. No visitors, unfortunately, during my two-hours there––except for my fellow associates and a restorer working on one of our museum’s statues. I spent what-would-have-been time seeing fireworks watching Independence Day, the movie, which wasn’t so bad. And much to my surprise (and disappointment), there were no “home-made” firework displays out in the countryside this year. Usually, if they’re not practically next door, you can see one or two displays on the hill across the valley.
So what was so meaningful about this year’s Independence Day? With all that’s going on––including the cancellations of Fourth of July activities––I couldn’t help but be more patriotic this year than ever before. My patriotism had grown during my 2006-2012 tenure as reporter for a local newspaper. There, I had an editor who expressed his patriotism (he has spent more than 20 years in the military). Between the two of us, we covered several of our areas’ Memorial Day and Flag Day festivities each year; he had organized a public reading of The Declaration of Independence on more than one occasion; I had plenty of stories that came out of our local American Legion posts; and I had interviewed some World War 2 veterans not long before they had passed; and interviewed some children of WW2 vets for other stories.
I always had a deep appreciation for our founding fathers and what they went through to declare independence; as well as their careful dedication and wisdom in drafting our nation’s constitution. I deeply appreciated what our many veterans fought for over the centuries to secure that freedom and constitution; and I appreciated that Christian principles were the foundation of our nation––whether it be the constitution, declaration or just the way in which it impacted the culture and ethics of our everyday lives.
But this year, things were different. Though we could easily see an erosion of our Christian values for decades now, it seems that everything that was a stability of this great country is crumbling, quite literally. Our booming economy went down the tubes, chaos had erupted in the streets, statues of great men who did great things were torn down (even The Great Emancipator and black activist Frederick Douglas, plus Mt. Rushmore is controversial now), rules and regulations regarding stay-at-home orders due to COVID 19 cancelled literally everything for a while, and we are now slowly but painfully returning to normalcy––we hope. We are all still unsure if there will be a return to normalicy in the near future.
And this great loss this year is why I have never felt more patriotic in my life. They say you never know what you got until it’s gone. And perhaps we took the ordinary for granted. I look back at many things I’ve enjoyed, but took for granted––getting up on a Saturday and going to the mall or to the movies or miniature golfing for example, or things that I had marked on my calendar for this year such as our annual hot-air balloon festival or finally seeing Billy Joel in concert. Gone. Taking the drive to Watkins Glen to church on a Sunday morning? That simple privilege was gone (for a while). The big race in Watkins Glen? Moved to Daytona this year. I’m not even a fan of NASCAR and have never watched it, but I still look forward to it at least taking place in our nearby town.
These simple things that we have taken for granted––going to the ice cream stand; getting a few things at the grocery store; picking up a book, audiobook, CD or DVD at the local library; schools running as normal; picking my kids up from activities; going to a graduation ceremony; getting up and having a job to go to in the morning…all gone in an instant. The ability to step out of the house and just walk into anywhere freely (without a mask over my face) is gone for who-knows-how-long. Whether or not the reason for these things are warranted is not the issue. The stability of our ordinary lives that we have taken for granted have been stripped away due to a rather mild pandemic (mild as far as pandemics have gone historically), and are now in danger of being stripped even more due to those who hold office and want more control over our lives (aka socialism).
I have never been more patriotic because I have never been in a place where I understood the loss of our freedoms and our simple way of life as I have over the course of these patriotic holidays (Memorial Day, Flag Day and Independence Day). I hope that we go back to normalcy soon, but if we don’t, I will do what I can to at the very least let my voice be heard, to be an informed citizen and to vote for freedom. Yes, just the simple act of being informed now has become polarizing. People receive different news on the same topics, so what is the truth? There is no such thing as objective reporting anymore. Heck, everything in our culture has become politically sided–as if it’s a religion or something. But that is another post maybe for another time….