The Fourth of July appears to be a red-white-and-blue oasis in the midst of a vast desert landscape of division and vitriol.
We’re allowed — encouraged, even — to set aside our political and sociological strifes and join together on this special day in celebrating the sacrifices of those who came before us, the courage and wisdom of our forefathers and the unquestioned excellence of such culinary delights as hot dogs and apple pie, all while watching explosives color the sky and frighten our dogs.
God bless America.
It was July 4, 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was formally signed — officially stating that the 13 colonies were confirming their independence from the Crown. As one could imagine, it wasn’t without some hiccups and debate, but it came together, and the world would forever be different as the birth of the United States of America was well on its way.
And it has been an action-packed 242 years for the fledgling nation. There were early wars with Native Americans, a Whiskey Rebellion, another bloody conflict with the British in 1812, slavery, a devastating Civil War and more battles with Native Americans and Mexicans as our country expanded to the west. We’ve seen multiple world wars, fights against communism, a Cold War that appears to be gathering steam once again and numerous skirmishes in the Middle East.
We have seen organized crime take over major cities, drugs infiltrate our suburbs and rural areas, abject poverty in urban centers and Appalachia, struggles over civil rights and women having the right to vote, heart-breaking school shootings and the relative security of feeling safe shattered by the monstrous and cowardly acts of Pearl Harbor and Sept. 11, 2001.
We’ve also seen the drafting of the U.S. Constitution, arguably the greatest and most-respected document written in the history of civilization. In fact, noted essayist Gerald Early was quoted as saying, “I think there are only three things that America will be known for 2,000 years from now when they study this civilization: the Constitution, jazz music and baseball. They’re the three most beautifully designed things this culture has ever produced.”
We’ve watched together in prideful awe as a rocket built by American scientists and navigated by American astronauts landed on the moon, chanted together in patritotic unity as the 1980 U.S. men’s hockey team did the “impossible” and pulled ourselves back up off the economic floor after a handful of stock market crashes and a mortgage crisis.
In fact, if there’s one thing that screams “America” more than my diamond-encrusted patriotic thong, it is our ability to pick ourselves back up and fight. We gravitate to classic underdogs like Rocky Balboa because we are the ultimate underdog — the rag-tag little band of colonists and patriots who rose up against an empire to take ownership of our own lives, and eventually morphed into a modern-day empire — often leading the way globally in trade, conscience, might and morality.
Yes, America is, and often has been, divided by our obvious differences. We still struggle with race. We still fight too much over religious differences. We still struggle to find the best way to help the most vulnerable elevate themselves, while the most powerful amongst us continue to feast in ivory towers. And guess what? So does every other nation in the world. It’s because we’re human beings.
Take a look around you wherever you are celebrating over the holiday. See all the small shops and restaurants open for business — the scent of entrepeneurship and big dreams hanging over the front door at each stop. Watch our law enforcement professionals as they stay alert for potential dangers while they interact and pose for photos with our children. Listen to patriotic songs penned out of a love for this country, and steal a smile as you watch a doting grandparent hand over a soft-serve cone to an adoring grandchild.
Over the next week, just in our little community, you can find a fireworks show in Millsboro, a kid’s parade at Bear Trap, a family parade in Bethany Beach and more fireworks over the beach that evening. There will be red, white and blue hats and clothing, people exercising on the beach with the rising sun and crabs being dusted with copious amounts of Old Bay.
Church bells will ring out, sirens of our dedicated first-responders will blare out and seagulls will... well, they’ll make those rotten little sounds they make while they’re diving for my vinegar-coated fries and making me look like a crazy person as I cling protectively to my sacred potato sticks with one hand while I’m holding up my shorts with the other so my diamond-encrusted...
But I digress.
Just enjoy the sights and sounds of the things that are right about this country. There will be plenty of time after the holiday to go back to hating our neighbors and calling people names who don’t agree with us. Don’t worry.
There’s always time for that, folks.
By Darin J. McCann