I’m going to try and go to a ballgame tomorrow night for the 4th of July….hopefully the predicted rain showers will hold off and we’ll see some professional fireworks displays. Maybe then when we get home, the residents in our neighborhood will be finished shooting off their thousands of dollars worth of fireworks, perhaps without blowing off a finger or a hand. You have to wonder just what Independence Day means to these people, and to all the various sectors of people in our country.
The first Independence Day celebration took place on July 8, 1776, four days after the signing of that declaration. The first public readings of the Declaration were held in Philadelphia’s Independence Square to the ringing of bells and band music. One year later, on July 4, 1777, Philadelphia marked Independence Day by adjourning Congress and celebrating with bonfires, bells and fireworks. Gradually, cities and townships all across America started to join in.
Thomas Jefferson, who was gravely ill in 1826 said in a July 4th letter that year: “May it be to the world, what I believe it will be … the signal of arousing men to burst the chains … and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. That form, which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. …For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.” To the rights of man, every man and woman.
What a noble statement, especially in comparison with some statements being made by our officials in the highest offices during this day and age.
Congress established Independence Day as a holiday in 1870, and in 1938 Congress reaffirmed it as a paid holiday for federal employees.
I haven’t found anywhere, in any records of the celebration of Independence Day, where it was connected with military exercises. General Eisenhower, who became President Eisenhower once made reference to the overarching costs of military equipment. In his April 16, 1953 speech Ike said:
“The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.”
I cannot find where Ike said he was absolutely against military parades, but he was certainly right about the costs of heavy military equipment versus the needs of all Americans.
I cannot abide the co-opting of our Independence Day this year to display our military might. I do not think it’s right to sell tickets to supporters of our current administration, and use that money for political campaigns. It is not right to take 2.5 million dollars from the budget of an already stressed National park system to use to set up what amounts to a political rally, and that’s not even counting what our actual military is also spending. This is not what Independence Day is all about.
Independence Day is about the boy….my grandson, who has the freedom to go watch a ballgame. It’s about you folks who will be grilling out hamburgers and hotdogs tomorrow, and yes….shooting off those dang loud fireworks in the evening. (Hey, I’ve done it myself in the past and had fun) It’s about you people who will be able to worship this week…anyway that you wish, it’s about the everyday man or woman who will go back to work Monday, after a few precious days off, who will appreciate those real patriots, who so long ago fought with wit, intelligence, and in battle to free us from the tyranny of a single man being able to tell us what we can and can’t do.
We don’t really want to go back to that, do we?