Pros & Cons Of An American Celebration
There is a New America every morning when we wake up. It is upon us whether we will it or not.
-Adlai E. Stevenson Jr.-
As you may already know (or will soon find out), I am an American citizen. I was born in Lowell (It’s a small city north-west of Boston.), Massachusetts and have lived here ever since. I was raised to love my country and to treat it with care. That having been said, I wish we didn’t celebrate patriotic holidays. With tomorrow being Independence Day, I give you the following ten reasons as to why I like and dislike such days.
Let’s begin with the positive.
Celebrate The Country (And Veterans)
Since I was little, I have used the Fourth of July as a day to remember how far America has come and to realize how far she still has to go. Thanks to people like my dad (veterans) who sacrifice their time, relationships and lives for the good of the country, this day has so much more meaning. Particularly in recent years when servicemen and women have been called to duty, this day has regained nearly all of its original meaning. No longer can we brush it off as a day brought to us by stuffy old men from hundreds of years ago. It is now a day that has the face of young, brave individuals who love their country so much that they are willing to die (and have died) for it. With this in mind, there is a lot to celebrate tomorrow.
I love hearing patriotic songs sung on these holidays. You can sense the pride the lyricists felt in their country to write such a song and for that reason the words mean so much more. People, young and old, sing these songs as a tribute to “the land they love.” It doesn’t matter what your singing voice sounds like when it is surrounded by thousands of others. Be sure to take time tomorrow to enjoy these songs.
Kids Waving Flags
There is no sight more adorable on such holidays than the vision of a child waving a flag. They wave it with such enthusiasm that you worry that their arm may fly off. At this young age, they are being taught to love their country and to wave their flag proudly. May we all be able to feel such enthusiasm.
For me, the Fourth of July (or any patriotic holiday for that matter) is incomplete without a cookout. Though people expect you to stick to hotdogs and hamburgers, I say it doesn’t matter what you cook as long as you cook it on the grill. As silly as it may sound, I need to smell that charred smell and see the smoke rising off of the grill in order to feel in the holiday mood. Tomorrow, as you bite into a grilled piece of corn (or some other grilled item), be sure to taste the tradition in each bite.
Yes, they are costly. Yes, people have been injured and even killed using them. Still, they are beautiful especially when they are accompanied by the 1812 Overture. No matter how much I age, I will never forget being held by my mom as a child and her pointing out each of the new patterns. Some of my best Fourth of July memories involve watching a fireworks display with my family. I hope you can see the beauty in them tomorrow night too.
Yet, with these five positive things there are still five more that can be seen as negative.
People Practice Right To Drink
In my family, we don’t usually associate celebrating with drinking. However, considering the number of people who will die tomorrow in car accidents involving drunk drivers, this must not be the practice of everyone. I can never truly enjoy a patriotic holiday for this reason. The idea that I may lose someone I love because another person didn’t know their limits makes me sick. Tomorrow when you’re celebrating the Fourth of July in your own way, please be aware of your limits and the limits of others around you. If possible, toast to America with a cup of lemonade. It’ll be cheaper in so many ways.
Patriotism Lasts A Day
Tomorrow, we will all be hardcore Americans. Yet, on Sunday, we will just be people who happen to live in the United States. Personally, I know I could be more patriotic. However, I will never fake my patriotism and am disgusted by people who will be doing that tomorrow. Some people just want another reason to party. It’s a shame that something as amazing as America’s birth gets placed in that category.
Reminder Of Injustice
As I said, America (or maybe it’s just the American mindset) still has a long way to go. We are allowed a number of rights that members of other countries can only dream of. Still, women are underpaid and people who don’t fit an exact mold are treated as outcasts. Each day, a portion of American society oppresses minority groups out of a fear of the unknown. We deny people rights because the forefathers never thought to factor these people in when they wrote the Declaration of Independence. The time has come for us to build a new America. As we rebuild our economic and healthcare systems, let us also rebuild our mindset on people who are different. America can’t reach her full potential until we stop holding her back.
Bigotry Stands Out
On a connected note, patriotic holidays seem to give bigots an opportunity to spew hateful things. Since 9/11, anyone with olive colored skin has been looked down upon and treated like a terrorist by these people. Fearing another terrorist attack, these people would rather cut down “the enemy” before another attack can take place. What these people forget is that we all have the potential to be a terrorist and that, clearly, hatred has no color. I believe that these bigots are the new terrorists. Due to hateful acts inspired by fear and prejudice, they are bringing America down from the inside. For the sake of America, let’s learn to love and accept one another.
Fighting For Space
In light of the above four reasons, my fifth reason seems absurd. Still, it deserves mentioning. These holidays seem to bring out the worst in people. Otherwise, peaceful people suddenly turn into ogres when you dare to place your blanket near theirs at a fireworks display. If you have the nerve to park your car in a spot that someone else wanted, beware. Traffic will be insane and, as a result, people will be stressed and on the attack. I hope that at some point tomorrow you are still able to appreciate the meaning of the day. We can’t forget all of the good things that America stands for just because someone pushed our buttons.
Despite these five reasons, I still love my country. She is a young country and is still growing up/striving to reach her full potential. As her occupants, we must help her age gracefully (recycle, reduce waste, conserve resources, etc.) and remind her daily of the principles she was formed on (life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, etc.). Along with her, we must learn to accept that though we may not all look, pray or love the same way, we are all equal and should attempt to lead lives she can be proud of. Tomorrow when you’re busy enjoying your cookout and stuck in traffic on the way to the fireworks display take a moment to remember all that America stands for and all it should mean to you. There’s a lot to celebrate now, but so much more to celebrate in the America of the future.
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