The Fourth of July is probably my favorite holiday. It is stitched into the fabric of my memory, a quilt of half and happily remembered days of pools and sun and fireworks and friends. It is my grandfather, alive, and proud; and my grandmother, doting and also proud, both veterans and both expressive of an unwavering, Rooseveltian sense of shared patriotism. The Fourth is climbing on a playground lit by fireworks in Morgantown, West Virginia. It is a sense of community in Maple Heights, that sprawling, maze-like Cleveland neighborhood. It is laying on a blanket and drinking wine with near complete strangers along the Hudson River in New York City.
It is more than pyrotechnics, or the commercialization of shallow nationalistic pride. It is a feeling, a collective celebration of a shared endeavor, of community, of neighborly good will. For me it is not about a foundational text, it is not an edification of national beginnings within a static historical context, but a running narrative of struggle and sacrifice, success and joy. Of each other and our stories. Say what you will about crass exploitation of the Fourth and its attendant sentiments, but for me it is still a day when everyone can come together, however briefly, however drunkenly, or sweatily.
It is yours and mine and all our memories, our traditions, mingling, expressed together in public spaces, along waterfronts, in parks, and stadiums, over city skylines and suburban outskirts. It is the return, for just a moment, a solitary, fleeting moment, of childhood. Like any good snowstorm, or plane takeoff, or roadtrip the Fourth of July delivers me back to fourth grade, to unadulterated bouyancy.
So get out, in the sunshine, the dusk, and dark. Be with friends and all the others, and watch some fireworks, and enjoy yourself.