Celebrating OUR Independence

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Quick, guess which holiday is the most dangerous date on the American Calendar?

For all of its pharmaceutically enhanced late-night shenanigans New Years Eve seems a likely candidate, but it can’t compete with Independence Day.

That’s right, July 4th (not to mention the six-day period encompassing July 1-6) is the most dangerous day in the American year.

While New Years Eve may feature the judgement impairing effects of alcohol and fatigue, Independence day combines under-supervised children, fireworks, recreational vehicles, firearms, and water sports with daylong celebrations featuring alcohol, extreme heat, and in-laws.

And this all happens before the Roman Candles make their appearance at sunset.

Over the years I’ve watched July 4th become a day when people decide to celebrate their freedom by breaking the law: underage drinking, illegal fireworks, drunk driving, discharging a firearm within city limits, you get the picture.

On independence day people tend to think that they can do whatever they want because they’re Americans, on their own property.  It’s almost as if we have confused “liberty” with “individualism”.

With so many people doing “their own thing” I wondered how the first 4th of July was celebrated and just how many people celebrated it?

 I looked up the population statistics of the American colonies in 1776 and discovered that there were merely 2.5 million people who became “Americans” when the Declaration of Independence was formally adopted by the Continental Congress.

This is approximately the same number of people who will dress a hotdog today and then realize that they actually feel more like a burger… only to find that no child will accept the free gift of a hotdog with mustard and relish on it.

2.5 million will also represent the number of mustard and relish dogs eaten by golden retrievers today, not coincidentally.

Today the number of Americans guaranteed the freedoms promised by the Declaration of Independence has swelled to 314 million.  The majority of those 314 million people will celebrate our 237 years of freedom by eating barbecued meats and then watching a fireworks display choreographed to music that may have something to do with explosions, but very little to do with America (Katy Perry?).

July 4th is a celebration of America’s Independence from Great Britain, and it goes right when we celebrate it as the birth of a nation that offers us the widest array of freedoms that the world has ever seen.  It all goes wrong when we begin to see it as a celebration of individual freedoms;

The freedom to pump Neil Diamond’s “Coming to America” on repeat,

The freedom to make our own tank top out of a shirt we got at the state fair,

The freedom to drink an entire six pack and operate ladyfingers,

The freedom to wear cut-offs without a belt,

The freedom to dip a Nacho Cheese flavored Dorito into more dip,

The freedom to have a light-beer flavored milkshake,

The freedom to make an American flag into a swimsuit,

The freedom to put mayonnaise on anything and call it a salad,

The freedom to terrify pets with your “imported fireworks”,

And

The freedom to sing the national anthem… as a solo.

Independence Day isn’t about celebrating individualism, it’s about celebrating the fact that 10 generations of Americans have had the opportunity to live and work alongside their loved ones free from oppression, and that’s something that we do together.

If you need to do something individualistic,

Remember that you have the freedom to eat both the hotdog AND the hamburger.

Happy Independence Day.

2 Responses to “Celebrating OUR Independence”

  1. John Woolley July 4, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

    Yes: individualism v freedom – so different!

    And Katy Perry has EVERYTHING to do with America. Sadly.

  2. Jon July 4, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

    Such a good response John.

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