I still recall what I did some 38 years ago on this date -- the almighty Bicentennial. One once-in-a-lifetime event that was truly unique in the celebration of our nation and its unique take on Democracy.
I spent it with family at my Uncle Carlos' house in suburban Park Forest (which at the time seemed to me to be at the edge of the world -- it is on the Cook/Will County border).
MY UNCLE DUG out the barbecue grill, we ate some food, watched some fireworks displays in the evening. And somehow, my cousin Carlos managed to come up with some firecrackers, causing us younger family members (I was 10 that summer) to find things to blow up.
It most definitely was NOT some high-minded ideal celebration about the purpose of Democracy. I'm sure if anyone had come along and tried talking that way, we probably would have lit a couple of firecrackers and flung them his (or her) way to scare him off.
Yet somehow, I doubt we were any different than 99 percent of the rest of the populace that was alive on July 4, 1976. We used the day as one of outdoor relaxation, rather than one of patriotic reflection.
Just like I suspect the celebration we had all those years ago will be repeated in so many forms on Friday -- when our nation officially becomes 238 years old.
PEOPLE WILL BE all concerned about the quality of the meat they're cooking up (or the texture of the tofu for those who can't take the idea of beef), and making sure it is appropriately cooked. Although the thought of all the beef that will be cooked to a crisp (as in well-done) makes me nauceous.
Some of them probably will find some obnoxious-looking flag motif shirt or shorts to wear , and claim it to be evidence of their patriotism. Just like all those gaudily-clad people of recent weeks who rooted for the U.S. national soccer team. Although I always wonder how many of those people had grand-parents who some 50 years ago lambasted Yippie activist Abbie Hoffman as a traitor and disrespectful for wearing that U.S.-flag motif shirt at anti-Vietnam War -protests.
For all I know, some may even spend part of the day lambasting President Barack Obama; who in recent days said he was preparing to move forward on executive orders to implement portions of immigration policy reform.
Even though if you want to be honest, it is those people who are adamantly opposed to real immigration reform (which has nothing to do with border walls or deportations) who are espousing the ideals that go counter to what Friday is supposed to be about.
I ALWAYS THOUGHT the concept of a "real America" is one in which there are a mish-mash of people with little in common except for their belief in the ideals of a place that offers the chance at life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness..
The people who can't accept that concept are the ones who probably would be happier elsewhere.
This ought to be the day we all think in terms of joining together for a national unity, and not trying to define "unity" as everyone else needing to be just like myself.
Personally, I think it would be deadly dull if everyone else were like myself. At the very least, there'd be no one else to quarrel with.
SO THESE ARE just a few thoughts that will be running through my mind on this Friday while I sit by the pool.
Yes, the pool. Barring inclement weather, I'm planning to spend the afternoon in the swimming pool at the apartment complex where my step-mother's mother lives.
Because that's where the family is gathering for this year's take on Independence Day. All except for my brother, Christopher. He's employed by Home Depot, which is engaged in its own take on the holiday.
He has to work, making sure that those people in need of tools and other building supplies can purchase them -- along with anybody who happens to feel compelled to purchase a new barbecue grill on this day.