I have a, let’s say, complicated relationship with the 4th of July – Independence Day. On one hand, I love what it stands for. On the other hand? Worst holiday of the year. So today and tomorrow, I offer my annual point/counterpoint with myself on the best, and worst, of our Independence Day.
Today: Why it’s the worst holiday of the year.
I think my mixed feeling about Independence day is best embodied by the 4th of July the first year we moved in to our house.
The patriotic residents of a house across the street had decided to dedicate the whole day to celebrating freedom. It was around 2:00pm, while one of the stalwart residents was showing a young child how to hold a lit bottle-rocket when, somehow, one of their rockets landed in the dry brush of the 90-year-old woman’s house next door, and a fire started! Well, when Mrs. Byronic and I went over to put the fire out, these selfless citizens joined in with a cereal bowl full of water, and then by watching us.
They, perhaps a bit discouraged by starting a fire, decided to refrain from explosives for the rest of the day. It saddened me, I must admit, to see their democratic fervor so easily tempered. But I needn’t have worried. The enemies of freedom would be wise to learn that American pride is not so easily squelched! It wasn’t an hour or two later before more people had come to join the celebration and more, bigger, fireworks were being set off! Hurrah!
These brave patriots made sure that everyone around them understood the importance of the day through several acts, primarily through shooting bottle-rockets at passing cars shouting timeless phrases from our historical founders, such as Patrick Henry’s immortal quote, “Fuck you!” and the always quotable Ben Franklin’s, “Get a new car, asshole!”. It was still daylight, so there was no “rockets’ red glare” but the motorists got the point. Then… I’m sorry, I must pause for moment. The kindness and spirit of the moment was almost too much.
Okay. Then, perhaps concerned that those around them were letting the momentous day slip by without proper reflection, they sent a wake-up call by – it would turn out – setting fire to four people’s homes and property with their bottle-rockets.
After dousing the fire on our deck I went over to show my gratitude. In a display of wonderful role-modeling for their young boy, they showed the same quick-thinking that enabled the revolutionaries to evade the British by saying that, though they were holding fireworks in their hands (and one guy was hitting a roman candle with a hammer for some reason) that they had not been shooting fireworks, but rather the neighbors in the seemingly empty house behind them had been. I said that if they happened to see these “neighbors” could they let them know that they had just set my deck on fire? At this point, a young woman offered me advice that I’ll never forget: If my deck was on fire, she said, I should “probably hose that shit down.”
Wise counsel, young lady. Wise counsel.
While I was doing this, several neighbors phoned some of our civil servants – the police and fire departments, specifically – in order to show our gratitude for all they do. These civil servants got together with the brave patriots across the street and discussed several things I missed out on. I had to retreat to my deck and think about the grandeur of it all.
Tomorrow: Why Independence Day is great.