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Mon, Dec. 09

Around the Bluhmin’ Town: Remember what Independence Day is all about

Judy Bluhm, Courier Columnist

Judy Bluhm, Courier Columnist

What does the Fourth of July mean to you? Sometimes, in the rush of ordinary living, we forget the huge sacrifices and courage it took to form a nation. Clearly, back in the mid-1700s, parades and marches set the stage for peaceful protest against the oppressive rule of the British Empire. The passionate objections against high taxes would catapult the early colonists into a war. The Declaration of Independence gave birth to a new country and so much more.

There were quite a few bumps in the road before early Americans felt like cooking hot dogs and blasting off fireworks. The difficult years of the Revolutionary War brought thirteen North American colonies together to define and defend their new right to freedom. The right to die for freedom is the sad reality that marked the beginning of an independent America. Winning the war was a small miracle, since the colonies had had more connection to England than they had to each other. Yet, the desire to be free created national unity and the formation of our United States.

To most Americans, Independence Day marks the summer celebration of all things American. It’s time to get the flag out, plan a picnic, bake an apple pie, catch a fireworks display (perhaps a scary idea in this fire season) and enjoy a day off from work. Not to be confused with a “Monday holiday,” we honor the Fourth of July on the “real day” that it occurs. This is the “One Big Day” that belongs to each of us. It is the most American of all holidays, since it is not promoting religion, does not celebrate war (although one erupted), does not divide Americans in any way. It marks the unity of a country, the birth of freedom, the beginnings of who we are today.

A teacher in Texas says she wept when she asked her middle school students what they thought Independence Day was all about. She claims a majority of the kids talked about summer picnics, parades and fireworks. Few had connected it to the Declaration of Independence and a new Constitution. Worse, a national survey of high school students asked about important American events, found that a majority could not connect Pearl Harbor with World War II, could not explain why America fought in World War I and did not know who fought in the Revolutionary War!

We all need to work harder at teaching our children about history! A reporter in Baltimore asked numerous students from a local high school: “What is Independence Day?” Some kids said, “a movie,” while a few said a brand of designer blue jeans and one teenager thought it was a video game!

Fly the flag! When this Fourth of July rolls around, have a barbecue and take a moment to reflect on the most important message of self-governance and human rights ever written (by Thomas Jefferson). That all people are created equally and have rights that include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Light the fireworks and let’s be happy!

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local Realtor. Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at judy@judybluhm.com.

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