It’s a shameful confession, for an eco-nut (a friend’s husband once called me an ‘eco-terrorist’ because I’ve supported Green Peace since the get-go ). I love fireworks. Yes, they’re probably horrible for the environment. Yes, they’re totally ephemeral. (I think of them as a kind of Buddha board art — see below )
But they’re so lovely — the perfect dandelions of colour, exploding against the hot summer sky. The neon colours that almost defy naming — sear and tang and bright and fire . And while I know the origins of fireworks – Chinese through & through; they still dominate the business — they seem quintessentially American to me. A fitting celebration of the country’s birth. Pyrotechnics, colour, loud noise and beauty that goes up in smoke .
In fact, the entire idea of July 4 celebrations has become a politicized issue, research shows. Republicans see themselves as ‘more patriotic,’ and flag-waving is the way to show it.
I don’t mean that to sound unpatriotic or cynical. Much of my life has been spent outside the US and I have always been glad to be able to ‘come home.’ When we had other options, my husband & I made the choice to return to the USA to bring up our two sons. We didn’t want them to be, as I am in many ways, expat brats . We wanted them to be firmly rooted in America, with all its complexities.
As the Fourth looms, I wonder why we define patriotism so narrowly. A neighbour flies a large American flag, but brags about stiffing the nursing homes where he does medical care. I doubt George Washington would find that laudable. A family member truly believes that only Christians should be allowed to vote. That lets out Thomas Jefferson, a deist but not a Christian. Another advocates mandatory birth control for welfare recipients. None of these seem to me to resonate w/ what I think of as real American virtues: hard work for fair wages, a reasonable profit for quality goods, freedom of religion and freedom from governmental mandates. Ironically, the more people I know tout ‘patriotism,’ the more likely they are to limit American rights to people who look and act and believe as they do.
So I offer you my ultimate American patriotic icon: the Bill of Rights. Freedom of religion, freedom of press, due process… For me, that’s what it’s all about: I may not agree w/ what you do w/ your rights, but I will celebrate them joyfully with you this hot Oklahoma Monday. After all, three generations of my family have fought to uphold them…:) So celebrate our glorious right to disagree ~ Happy Fourth!