Friday, July 2, 2010

An American Holiday

Plans to celebrate the 4th of July abound. Many will boat, ski, fish, BBQ, or celebrate  the day with games, fireworks or other activities at one of the many festive places that offer something for kids and adults.

For me, the day means celebrating with family. The 4th of July is, and always has been, my favorite holiday, stemming from those days on the farm when my folks would plan the work so that we could take the day off, except for morning and evening milking, of course.

Any other holiday of the year, if extra things had to get done, we did them, holiday or no holiday, but on the 4th, the farm work was cleared from the slate so we could picnic at a lake, fish, see a parade, go to a carnival, or watch a local baseball game. I have great memories of those times my family spent with  aunts and uncles and cousins, but since I have no pictures of those times, I posted a few from more recent family celebrations.

Noon parades thrilled me as a child and I loved carnivals, where I spent  the small amount of money I had on treats and games. In the evening, I watched the fireworks. Like most children, I had only a vague sense of what the day means to our country, but even then the flag was a powerful symbol for me and grew more powerful during my 3-year hitch in the Army.

But although the display of our flag is an important part of the day, we know the 4th is really about the actual Declaration of Independence. The flag is a strong symbol, but the Declaration is the actual document that proclaims the intent and a plan. If the Declaration is a plan, the Constitution is an attempt to follow through.

Declaring ourselves separate from England was a radical action, an action that in no way can be described as main stream, status quo, conservative, or liberal. The action was extreme by any standard. Many people opposed separation from England. Some landowners and  businessmen wanted to reconcile with the king so they could keep their status and position above the rest. For some, their loyalty to the king was their motivation. For others, fear was the driving force. Both motives were genuine. Many fled to Canada to stay clear of the conflict.

In paintings we see images of the brave men who made the extreme decision stated in the Declaration, and although they may look like dandies or gentlemen of leisure in these paintings, we know they were hard-working, rugged individuals who traveled long journeys by horseback late at night and spent weeks away from their families to do the work we celebrate on the 4th of July.

So it is appropriate that we celebrate the 4th of July and the brave men who had the courage to lead by asserting our separation from England.

Celebrate Courage,
Celebrate Freedom,
Celebrate Hope,
with the people you love.

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson

1 comment:

  1. Well said, Gordon. In the flags and the fireworks that denote the Fourth, we often fail to consider the depth of the bravery required to separate from England.