Wednesday, July 05, 2006

July 4th in America

From Ralph Kinney Bennett at Tech Central Station:

Liberty is the air America breathes...
-- On a plaque in the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty

"As usual we'll gather at Conneaut Lake, up in northwestern Pennsylvania, as we have, some of us, for forty years or more.

A lot of folks who bought fireworks on the way up will be anxious to use them and we'll hear crackers going off all weekend.

On the Fourth, toward evening, we'll build a fire on the little pebbled beach by the lake and line up a couple of picnic tables. Neighbors will bring hot dogs and buns, marshmallows and coleslaw, deviled eggs and baked beans and watermelon and potato chips. There'll be Cokes and iced tea and lemonade.

Some of the younger kids will have to be dragged out of the water by the dock and told to put their fishing poles down and we'll all gather around Mr. Hessler's flag pole and someone will give thanks for the food and for the families gathered there, then end with something like "we thank you God for this great country and for our freedom." It will be a loud prayer to be heard above the sound of the motor boats and jet skis out on the lake.

Then we'll eat and laugh, shielding ourselves from the heat of the fire with our free hand while holding our hot dog roasting sticks in the other. When the darkness finally begins to gather we'll throw another log on the fire, toast marshmallows and sit back to watch the fireworks rising in the sky over Conneaut Lake Park, just a half mile across the water.

It is unlikely there will be any discussions of the meaning of liberty or reflections on the Declaration of Independence and the men who signed it. No history lessons or patriotic readings. We'll just relax and joke and maybe sing a little, and after the fireworks we'll look at the stars as we herd sleepy grandchildren back to our cottages or drive home to tumble into bed to the sound of the last few firecrackers and bottle rockets.

That's the whole point of it, you know. The whole point. To be so free, so much a part of something unique and strong and wonderful, so safe inside that wonderful thing called the United States, that you really don't even have to think about it.

In the smell of that cook fire, in the giggles and shouts as the fireworks lace the night sky, in the warmth of old friendships, in all the unshadowed freedom of the moment, lies the essence of what we celebrate.

It seems too simple and almost irreverent somehow, this unspoken yet grateful intuition about liberty and independence. But it's really the sublime culmination of all the dreams and sacrifices of our forefathers -- this happy gathering for no other purpose than to enjoy the blessing of being Americans."


Anonymous shoe said...

get in touch

8:52 AM  

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