Wednesday, May 17, 2006
isn't there anyone who knows what independence day is all about?....
At the time that I post this it will be 48 days until Independence Day, and I've noticed that there is something amiss. I've seen no Independence Day decorations on the shelves at the local retail stores. I've also yet to see or hear any advertisements for events or celebrations surrounding this holiday. No Independence Day greeting cards on the racks... No stories in the local paper about the history of this day..... No one is counting down... No homemaking magazines with teasers on the cover about Independence Day recipes.... I may sound crazy to you, but there is something wrong. If it was 48 days until Christmas we wouldn't be having this problem. The same goes for Easter, Halloween, and Valentine's Day. Why Shelfers? Why is it that there is an excess of product and excitement surrounding other holidays and only a barely audible 'Huzzah!' for Independence Day? It's our fault America. We have all done this, me included. The American retailer, advertiser, and TV programmer are only responding to the public. Think about this: What do you do to prepare for Independence Day? Do you hit the store the night before to get soft drinks or hamburger buns? Is your holiday ruined if it rains or the charcoal won't light? I confess. That's what I've done in Julys past and it's disgraceful. Not the grilling out part of it, but the lack of observance.
This popped into my head a few moments ago and I'm sickened at my actions. Why have I been acting like a second-rate American? I usually consider myself a decent American and a true patriot. I question that now. How can I claim to be such when I don't even properly celebrate the American holiday? Many of you may not be concerned with this, but I beg you to humor me for this one. Though the proper celebration of Independence Day may not be tops on your list of concerns in our country right now, I strongly believe it could help us all on our way to progress in aiding our homeland's other problems. On the subject of the other holidays that I've already mentioned, I certainly have nothing against them. Oh, I occasionally let out a 'Charlie Brownism' every once in a while murmuring something about over commercialization but I embrace the holiday hoopla to a degree. The Fall and Winter holidays have always been my favorites, owing much to the fact that they arrive during my favorite time of year. I don't plan to change that for myself or anyone else today. I merely want Independence Day to be promoted in the holiday rankings back to where it was meant to be.
Honestly, if you were to conduct a poll of "the most important holidays" you would almost always get Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Easter, and Valentine's day as the top 5. As I said before, I have nothing against these holidays. As a Christian, Easter and Christmas have obvious importance to me. Non-Christians have understandable alliances to other holidays as well. Thanksgiving is a great holiday with a great message. Halloween is wonderful for the kids and Valentine's Day is great for the ladies. Well, by now it's quite obvious that I want to make the case for Independence Day. First of all, what makes a holiday a holiday, and what makes it effective? First, you need a date or specific time of the month like December 25th or the first Sunday of April. Next, you need a reason to celebrate such as a religious purpose or even a celebration of a significant event or person. The last major thing typically aligned with holidays is a representative of some type; St. Patrick or the Easter Bunny for example. I'm here to tell you that Independence Day qualifies in each of these 3 areas.
Specific Date: -It is, of course, celebrated on July 4th (Which is the day before my birthday. Nudge, Nudge. Wink, Wink.)
Purpose: - It is celebrated for the purpose of remembering what the founders of this nation did long before we were ever thought of, which laid the foundation for the liberties we enjoy today. It is also a time to reflect on all of those who sacrificed so much to maintain the freedoms that we seem to think are guaranteed. I believe Independence Day has a true purpose that we should be more than happy to celebrate.
Representative: - Yes, Independence Day has a representative. It has several to be exact. I'm not talking about the flag. The flag is definitely part of it, but there are others that always seem to be missing. There are other elements that are major parts of the holiday. Two of them are the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. These documents are kind of like the mission statements or mantras of our country. If someone were to ask what America is all about, all you have to do is direct them to these two parchments penned by men of great vision and tenacity. These men are also great representatives of Independence Day. The men and women that got the ball rolling for this country also kept it rolling for a long time amidst much opposition.
Now I know this may not be a very popular idea, but I feel that if the citizenry were to celebrate this holiday properly and thoughtfully as we do most others we would be working our way to having one mind as a nation concerning our future and ideals. Those people who are listless around election time or are careless with their vote may take it more seriously. Those who couldn't care less about laws, our military or public safety officials may even become grateful for our country's standards and those who defend them. I'm going to put forth 3 suggestions that may help all of us to better celebrate this underrated holiday. You should have noticed by now that I continue to type 'Independence Day'. I have not once used 'July 4th' to describe this particular date. That's because July 4th represents a square on a calendar and Independence Day represents courage, longsuffering, freedom, and promise. I have committed to myself that I will try to always say 'Independence Day' so that I am reminded of its purpose. This is my first suggestion to you as well. The second is that as we start creeping towards the end of May every year; pick up a book about the birth of our nation. If not a book, then do something that may help throughout the end of May and June to learn more about the pivotal years before and after the establishment of our country. The book I plan to pick up is '1776' by David McCullough which has been featured here at The Shelf. If you already know a great deal about that time in history, then just challenge yourself to learn something new. Lastly, I suggest everyone join with me in starting an Independence Day tradition. Before the burgers are served and the kids go crazy....Before we say a prayer to thank God for our meal....How about say a little something about liberty. This year will be the first time I've been off for Independence Day in a few years. When I attend the family bar-b-que, I plan to kick things off by reading aloud the preamble of the Constitution or maybe I'll tell a quick story about something I learned from what I'll read in the coming month. What I'll try to do is to touch the hearts of my family with thoughts of liberty and the importance of it. I encourage you all to try and do the same. Tell your friends and spread the idea of celebrating this holiday with a new sense of gratitude. Hopefully we can all put these suggestions to work. If we do it right, then on that day just after we speak on freedom.....While we pray to thank God for our food....We can all thank Him for the freedom that allows us to do it.
Please feel free to comment if the need strikes you.
My God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!