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  • Betty Girardeau

A Strange 4th


Of the summer holidays my favorite has always been July 4th. As a child, Memorial Day still fell during the school year because that term did not end until mid June. But July 4th felt more like the real beginning of summer and summer vacation. We were not much of a picnic sort of family, but usually we would have something special for dinner, like a grilled steak and some years my mother and father would go to the extra trouble of making homemade ice cream. But the best part was the parade. We had fabulous parades in our little town. Almost every organization seemed to have its own band or marching group. The villagers would line the streets and the children would wave flags. In my current community in recent years we have had something similar with a large community picnic, games for the children, a parade of decorated golf carts, and finally a big fireworks show to cap the evening. This year there will be no community party. People have been encouraged to decorate their golf carts and at an appointed time this afternoon drive them around the neighborhood streets where, hopefully, they will be greeted by people on their porches. We will be having steak, corn on the cob, and my traditional four bean salad. I will have made homemade strawberry ice cream which will be topped with blueberries. And, thankfully, there will still be a fire works display at 9:00 o'clock because you can socially distance for that kind of show. But it will feel strange. Everywhere in the country the usual celebrations will have been muted by a virus. As I started to gather my thoughts this morning, I thought about our Founding Fathers and what July 4, 1776 must have been like for them. Rather than a sense of celebration, there had to have been a lot of fear and trepidation. This mix of thirteen colonies had thrown down the gauntlet to a big and powerful nation. Would they lose their lives, their homes and families, their fortunes? Were they going to be able to pull this independence thing off? Two hundred and forty four years have past. This year we are a nation divided in so many ways with a weak economy and fearful about a disease yet to be conquered. How many more will die before it is conquered? Can we find ways to come together and agree to finally deal with the long festering injustices to large portions of our population? How can we get back on track and really move forward? Now, as never before, I think this July 4th requires us to remember what this holiday really represents and what a terrible risk our Founding Fathers took when they signed their names to a document that started out with these words:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

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