By DAWN BRANDVOLD-GRAY
We are coming up on my favorite holiday. Christmas and Thanksgiving have their charms, but for sheer enjoyment nothing beats July 4. Slather on the sunscreen and celebrate a day that requires little advanced planning and no clean up. Thanks to all the dedicated city employees, most of us bask in all-American bliss with little effort.
Perhaps my love of the 4th started when, as a child, I was invited to ride on a local bank’s float. Maybe it solidified when my friends and I were given money and allowed to run unchaperoned at the city’s carnival. I knew it was official when I lay back on the grass with my own children and listened to the 1812 Overture and oohed and aahed at the fireworks over the high school.
July 4 is an equal opportunity holiday. You don’t have to be wealthy or well-connected to watch a parade or wave a tiny flag. It’s a holiday that hasn’t been commercialized to the point that we forget what it’s all about. There is no overtly religious or political undertone to love of country. For 24 hours, most of us forget if we are Republicans or Democrats because we are too busy being Americans. It’s a Statue of Liberty sort of day Р “give me your tired, your poor” Р and we’ll feed them hotdogs, sno-cones, and wrap them up in a blanket to watch a free fireworks show.
The late humorist Erma Bombeck summed it up best, “You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by in a show of strength and muscle, but with picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.”
By MARK GRAY
As in past years my July 4 celebration will begin when I join some 400 other men, women, and children for an early morning 5k run. It’s not my idea; my wife signs me up, believing there is nothing more healthy than an exhausting sweat before chowing down on an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast.
And July 4 is all downhill from there.
I don’t mind the concept of celebrating a historical day. I just don’t like the baggage that comes with it. I find most parades numbing: a few corporate floats squeezed between too-many-to-count herds of children wiggling their behinds for local dance companies. There is a whole lot of pomp and very little circumstance Р except for bad burns and tots racing into traffic for their five-year candy supply.
The oohs and aahs of fireworks are lost upon me. Let me sit on the porch or by the pool and read a book; let the other silly humans squat on blankets and spend 90 minutes trying to steer their car out of the parking lot.
July 4 is a great thing for sun screen manufacturers, Wyoming fireworks dealers, and (eventually) local dentists fixing cavities for $350 apiece.
Somehow I think Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and the boys would understand my reluctance to define my patriotism by waving a flag and putting the dogs on edge by making things go boom in the night. In my world, the Founding Fathers would join me for a cold beverage on the patio.