Sunday, July 3, 2011

Independence Day for Your Family

Independence Day the movie, of 1996, is a favorite for our family. The heroics of watching a handsome president join with his fellow citizens to lead the world in conquering alien beings with huge space ships carries symbolisms of our countries historic past. Just what makes Independence Day significant for your family?

Like many other families we will gather for a barbeque, swimming in our neighborhood pool, playing games and enjoying each other's company. The local boy scouts will post a beautiful flag in our front yard, as they do for several other holidays throughout the year. This is one of the nicest fundraisers I have ever contributed to. There are places locally that will host memorial events, breakfasts, parades, rodeos and fireworks in the evening.

Our city has done away with fireworks, but allows use of the local parks for groups to get together. As a member of the local park and recreation board I participated in the lively discussion about first implementing this about five years ago. Someone had been injured from personal fireworks before the public display the year before and requested that the city no longer provide this display. This really was the easy way around a touchy request, but there were other things that could have been to preserve this tradition enjoyed by so many citizens. What we lack are more citizens who are willing to take a stand to preserve the traditions we wish to continue.

We actually can see a bombardment of fireworks from our back deck as we have a view of the entire valley between Gladstone and West Linn, overlooking the Willamette River. I am not sure who purchases all of the fantastic fireworks displayed, but they cannot all be legal. That seems to be part of the spirit of independence and celebration of our collective rights to celebrate in our own unique ways. Americans seem to enjoy challenging the rights of freedom.

As noted on wikipedia, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail the following:
The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.

The celebration moved to July 4, as that is the date shown on the document. In 1938 it became a paid federal holiday and now many people have the day off from work. I was not aware that according to the same article:
 A salute of one gun for each state in the United States, called a “salute to the union,” is fired on Independence Day at noon by any capable military base.

When on September 11, 2001 terrorists attacked our country, the nation felt a ground swelling of defiance and pride. One of my favorite songs is "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning" by Alan Jackson. I made my children stop and take in the feelings of that day. They needed to feel the sense of American pride and our collected unity as citizens of this country. After ten years I don't think any us who lived through that week in our nation's history will ever forget the changes it brought to our lives. There is a great article about it on wikipedia.

For my own family the date provides an additional remembrance. Our ancestors left Massachusetts in 1860, and arrived in Independence, Iowa on July 4. The Tidd family had lived in Massachusetts for over 220 years and this was the first shift to living in the West. Now 151 years later we recognize our Revolutionary War ancestor Daniel Tidd (1760-1806) and his family who sent six sons to fight in the war. Two of the sons died at Valley Forge. They deserve our utmost honor and respect.

So, no matter how you celebrate may you take a moment to reflect on the freedoms we enjoy. Take a stand for what you believe; which our ancestors felt was their patriotic duty. Find a way to fulfill your own patriotic duty.

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