July 4, 2012– Red, white and blue. On T-shirts, on toe nails, on the cheeks of young kids with face paint. On the flags that hang from houses and decorate fair grounds. On wrap-around porches and tablecloths.
Hula-hoop contests. Carnival rides. Shaved ice and cotton candy. Water balloon tosses. Bare feet. Barbeques. Cold lemonade and a game of basketball.
Food. Lots of it. Corn on the cob. Baked beans. Hawaiian rolls and potato salad. Hot dogs and hamburgers overflowing with ketchup and mustard.
Fireworks. Colors that light up the sky. The resounding boom of exploding entertainment in the air. Awed faces and shouts of fun.
How did we get here?
July 4, 1776–Red. Blood stains. On uniforms, on farmers’ attire, on the brown earth and horses’ hides. Running in pools like rivulets through the dense forest. On the faces of old men and young boys.
Sweat and heat. Hoarse whispers in the underbrush. Screams of men and horses. The moans of the wounded. Untrained soldiers defending their homes and their freedom.
No food. Lack of sugar, lack of tea. Boycott on British wares. The East India Trading Company. A few fish eked from the river. Burning crops set aflame by enemy soldiers.
Canons. The resounding booms that light up the sky with their blinding light. That blow up houses and men and arms. Horrified faces and shouts of warning.
A secret meeting. The quiet, hurried signing of a document that would change the course of human government systems. Men putting their lives at risk just by picking up a pen and dipping it in ink. John Hancock. Benjamin Franklin. John Adams.
Dangerous words. Words of freedom, liberty and justice. “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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it; and to institute new Government…as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Let’s not forget our heritage. That cotton candy and firework show has come at a great cost.