Rest assured, we will have a few people in town to celebrate the Fourth of July.
Folks will be around to wave sparklers, eat hot dogs and wear novelty glasses painted red, white and blue. Crowds will gather for parades, fireworks and boardwalk fries, and children in strollers will be decked out in their most patriotic attire. There will be pie-eating contests, family cook-outs and patriotic music blaring from every corner of our picturesque community by the sea. We will be gaudy. We will be obnoxious. And we will be loud.
In short, we will be everything the rest of the world perceives us to be.
And that’s a good thing. Americans don’t slink into rooms and sit quietly in corners — we kick down doors and announce our collective presence with authority. We are a nation built on an insatiable thirst for freedom, and our forefathers shed their blood and risked the lives of their family members to stand up against tyranny and create a place where people could live the lives they choose as individuals to live.
We are a nation divided severely by politics, religion, race and gender, yet we somehow manage a way to come together to celebrate what it is that still makes us great today. You see, it is our ability to debate topics and share personal opinions that seperates us. Yes, we might hate our neighbors for putting up a political sign supporting somebody we find repulsive, but we will come to our neighbors’ side in a second if they find themselves in a time of need.
We are different. And that’s what makes us Americans.
Look, I’m not wearing blinders. I realize that we as a nation are not perfect by any means, and I honestly feel as if we’re heading down a similar path that the mighty Romans traveled so many years ago. Nation-building, multiple combat campaigns going on at once, greed of those in governmental and financial power, a sharp and clear socio-economic divide — all of those factors contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire, and we can all see those things happening around us today.
Do you remember a time when it was universally accepted that two topics never to be discussed in public settings were politics and religion? Yeah, try having a 10-minute discussion with somebody today without those topics rearing their heads. Personal choices have become public identification cards, and people carry them with pride, even if they often stoop to demeaning people with different views rather than espousing the brilliance of their own. If I hear one more person tell me ...
But I digress.
We do have warts. We do have vulnerabililities. We do have obvious shortcomings. But we do rally. We do unite. We do come together when things need to be handled.
Don’t believe me? Just take a look down the road in Bethany Beach on Route 26 and take a second to appreciate Justin’s Beach House. This was a collaberative effort between the Justin W. Jennings Foundation and Contractors for a Cause to build a home where families hit with cancer could come and enjoy a respite at the beach with their loved ones.
This took years of planning, fundraising and generally caring. It was not undertaken by one sole person on a mission — it was an effort by many to combine their resources and areas of expertise for the better good. Are you going to try to tell me that everybody involved shared political beliefs or religious affiliations? You’d be wrong. I know a good amount of the people involved in this effort, and I’ve personally watched several of them debate just about every topic under the sun.
But they unite for the better good. And that’s what we do as Americans.
As you’re out next week watching a parade or enjoying fireworks, take a small moment to stop and stare at the faces around you. Don’t think of them as Republicans or Democrats, Christians or Muslims or straight or homosexual. Appreciate that they’re Americans, and everybody is wearing the same red, white and blue uniform on that day.
They are showing their love of their country. They are showing their love of your country. Embrace it.