A reflection from two years ago:
I Don’t Celebrate the 4th of July
You won’t hear me wishing people a Happy 4th of July this weekend. It doesn’t make sense to me. I wouldn’t wish my mom a Happy 19th of April or my dad a Happy 16th of June. On those days, I wish them a Happy Birthday. We don’t celebrate the date; we celebrate the significance of the day. That is why I won’t wish anyone a Happy 4th of July, but I will wish them a hearty “Happy Independence Day”!
Yes, Independence Day.
Many people are taken aback by my Independence Day well-wishes, as if they had forgotten the reason they get the day off work to gather with friends, grill out and watch fireworks. Has it really come to that? Are we so used to saying Happy 4th of July that we fail to remember that it is our country’s birthday? Do we take our independence for granted? Do we realize just how fragile it is?
I keep calling to mind the St. Crispin’s Day speech in Henry V, when the king rallies his troops as they begin an impossible battle:
“This day is called the feast of St. Crispin. He that shall live this day and see old age will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbors and say ‘Tomorrow is St. Crispin’s Day’. Then he will strip his sleeves and show his scars and say ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s Day’. Old men forget, yet all will be forgot, but he will remember with advantages what feats he did that day…”
Are we so far removed from our ancestor’s feats that we can’t even acknowledge the Fourth of July for what it is: Independence Day? What a pity that we have grown so complacent and flippant with the gift of freedom!
And how will we “strip our sleeves” this weekend to honor the wounds of our forefathers? Will anyone at your neighborhood barbeque stand to recite the Declaration of Independence or even the poem detailing Paul Revere’s Ride? Will someone lead rousing choruses of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, America the Beautiful and our beloved anthem, the Star Spangled Banner? What about pledging allegiance to the flag of our great nation?
I pray that however you decide to celebrate that it will be with humility in recognition of our great nation’s Independence Day.
Of course no matter how you celebrate one thing is certain: I don’t wish you a Happy Fourth of July.
Happy Independence Day, USA!!!