Calling July 4 ‘Independence Day’ will not bring forth the Dark Lord

We’re only a few days away from the celebrating America’s independence, a movement that started 240 years ago after colonists in what is now the eastern United States felt they could no longer be subject to the tyrannical thumb of England. It took a number of years and the loss of many lives in a bitter war to actually achieve independence, but July 4 is significant because it was on this day that the Declaration of Independence was formally signed by the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

A scene from the Independence Day parade in Bonduel, Wisconsin, in 2011. Bonduel has one of the better, and longer, Independence Day parades in Wisconsin. (Photo by Lee Pulaski)

I’m guessing most folks won’t be thinking about our forefathers’ sacrifice as they’re water skiing, downing hot dogs, watching parades and gazing at fireworks. That’s okay, because declaring yourself to be free is usually seen as a celebratory event.

An Independence Day celebration in Page, Arizona, includes the release of red, white and blue balloons. (Photo by Lee Pulaski)

The sad thing, however, is that you don’t hear the words “Independence Day” uttered very much by people in conversations about the holiday. There are plenty of references to “the Fourth of July” like that date is magical and mystical. However, you would think using “Independence Day” was akin to naming Lord Voldemort out loud. It is not the holiday that cannot be named.

It’s the latest side effect of a society that puts having a good time above all else. Forgetting the meaning of a holiday diminishes its meaning. It’s the same as assuming Memorial Day is the day to celebrate all of our veterans when it’s to commemorate the ones who have died defending freedom. It’s the same as assuming Thanksgiving is just a day to pig out on turkey and fall asleep watching football. It’s the same as assuming Christmas is a day for getting free stuff from your friends and family.

Wow. America really has forgotten the meaning of a lot of holidays, now that I think about it.

Fireworks light up the sky in Bonduel, Wisconsin, during an Independence Day celebration in 2011, the 100th anniversary of the community’s celebration. (Photo by Lee Pulaski)

I’m not above having a good time on Independence Day. I like seeing the fireworks light up the night as I drop the roof on my convertible. Seeing all the red, white and blue on parade floats as they cruise by is a highlight for me and worth coming out on what is usually one of the hottest days of the year. At the same time, I’m proud to be an American, and I’m proud to be free, so I don’t think it’s too much to ask to call a spade a spade.

I’m probably not going to spend much time imagining frigid winters at Valley Forge and cannons firing across the American landscape, but I’m still going to call this holiday what it is, Independence Day, and I don’t think it’ll ruin anyone else’s good time to do the same. Not to sound like a parent, but try it; you’ll like it.

Now, somebody pass the mustard. My hot dog needs a bit of color.


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