Celebrating the Past and the Present
Today marks the day that Americans get decked out in their red-white-and-blue finery, grill some burgers, cheer on some parades, and watch a bunch of explosives. It’s the 4th of July, American Independence Day, and often it seems that people are more focused on the huge floats in the parades or on the sparkly colors in the night sky to really remember what all it stands for.
Of course it’s about remembering how far the United States of America has come since 1776. Of course it’s about remembering when we became a country (even though, as Quinn pointed out yesterday, the Continental Congress had actually passed the Declaration of Independence two days earlier). But it’s not just about the history. Not anymore. It’s also about the people who allow us to keep our independence to this very day.
When I was in high school, I was in marching band. The 4th of July parade we marched in was something of the bane of our existance, because it was a long, hilly parade in the July heat and it was just uncomfortable. The bright side of marching in the 4th of July parade, though, was that we never had to have much music rehearsal, seeing as how we played the same songs every year. Among some other standards (“God Bless America” and “The Star-Spangled Banner”), we always played the United States Service Songs. The same arrangements, in the same order, every year. By the time I hit Junior year of high school, I had them memorized (which, arguably, made the parade a little easier, because I no longer had to carry my music with me after that).
Even now, I still remember the Service Songs. Last night was Columbus, Ohio’s annual Red, White, and BOOM fireworks display. Just like every year, one part of the music arrangement for the display was the Service Songs. And just like every year, I found myself humming along to them in the part I used to play on my clarinet in high school marching band (for the record, I graduated from high school six years ago).
So what was the point of that tangent? Simple. Independence Day, for whatever country in which you reside, is not just about the independence won. It’s also about the independence kept. It celebrates both the past and the present, which is kind of amazing, because there’s not a ton in the world that can claim to do that. Independence Day is not just about a Declaration of Independence a couple centuries ago–it’s also about the men and women who willingly fight to keep it. It’s honoring the dead who got the independence in the first place, but also honoring those who put their lives on the line for the same reasons.
So to my fellow Americans, enjoy those parades and those fireworks and the barbeque. Enjoy time with your family and seeing red, white, and blue everywhere you look. But also don’t forget what this holiday is about. Thank our veterans and those currently serving, whether you agree with the wars or not. Remember where we came from, remember how we’ve kept that independence.
Happy 4th of July!