Our country began with a wish and a war, dominance and subjugation, passion and suppression. We can only know what the Founding Fathers (and Mothers) had in mind by looking at what they’ve left behind.
They gave us a document that is struggling to stay alive. Through the years, educated and wise (mostly) men (mostly), interpreted our Constitution and (mostly) moved us, as a society, to a more compassionate, inclusive, and fair place in the world.
Every year when I was young, my brother and sister and some neighbors and I climbed a ladder to the roof of our garage. We had a great view of the fireworks from there, set off at the neighborhood park and swimming pool. We’d ooh and aah at the beauty and noise.
I still love fireworks. Now, though, the noise jerks me back to those first gunshots. The thought doesn’t take away from the beauty or the ingenious and careful pyrotechnics of the display. But it’s there. A reminder of those early days full of hope and fear, wishes and reality, dreams and facts-at-hand.
In many ways it’s harder to be patriotic this year. Our community parade will start in less than four hours. I’ll stand with my hand over my heart each time a group marches the Stars and Stripes past me, like I’ve done every year. I’ll dream my dream of a future full of hope for my grandchildren, just as I’m sure my grandparents dreamed on their way to this land full of promise and freedom. I’ll look around at my neighbors and family and friends and marvel at how fortunate I am and how many of my grandparents’ dreams have come true for me. I hold tight to the sanity in my little piece of this great country.
The kids are starting to wake up, starry-eyed, depending on me to keep the dream alive. For today, I'll celebrate what we (still) have! Tomorrow I'll get back to work on preserving it.