What Does Independence Day Mean to Me in 2022?
I was scrolling through my Facebook feed recently, and I saw this pop up from a comic I follow called AJ & Magnus.
This is not the only piece of content that I have seen "banning" Independence Day, but it was one of the safest ones to share. I've seen this for years- people boycotting the 4th of July in protest to civil unrest in the nation. Just like taking a knee during the national anthem, boycotting the 4th of July has been a controversial observance of protest and patriotism.
Are we that "more perfect union" that set out to be 235 years ago? No, we are still just as divisive. Many things have changed obviously: some for the better, some perhaps worse. Now, I may get some heat for this, but I still see July 4th as a hopeful time, and I please ask you to consider what I'm going to say. Will what I say erase any of the things our nation needs to keep working on? By no means, but I think they are little reminders of who we are and who we can be.
What Does Independence Day Mean to Me?
This weekend alone, I have had the privilege to go to a few different BBQ's with people I care about. I got to hang out with people from work one day, and then got to see family the next. That, and I got to meet up with some friends, went out of town, and had a fun at this awesome arcade in Middletown that I've never been to before. Most people are off this weekend, and are afforded more time to let loose and be able to connect.
In regards to the work group, it felt nice to hang out outside of work and be candid with one another. Moments like that are where a lot of trust and bonding are built. It's nice to see my coworkers in a different light, and it felt nice to connect on a different level.
As for the family BBQ, we got to celebrate my cousin's high school graduation. They picked this weekend because it just so happened that many of our scattered family were off work and around the area. It made for a perfect celebration, and it was awesome to catch up with so many loved ones. We played lawn games, took pictures, ate great food, played music, and laughed a lot.
Not just that, but I've been more free to catch up with people online. We've been talking about our plans, seeing what's new, and have been planning to get together. Holiday weekends are perfect excuses to reconnect with people.
Besides working for Townsquare, I also work for a summer camp. You should see the excitement in the kids' eyes as they talk about their plans, and how happy they are to get to spend time with their families. Families will take off for a small vacation, something they don't get to do often, so they can breathe, relax, and enjoy each other's company. Moments like these mean so much to the kids. Remember when you were a kid going away somewhere with Mom and Dad? Remember how adventurous it felt? Remember how safe and warm it could be to have special quality time with them? Many of you reading this are probably getting to experience this with your own kids now. These are the moments your kids will remember, so make them count.
I feel the same way with my parents still. Between my jobs and responsibilities, it's hard to get good quality time with my folks. But tonight we got tickets to watch fireworks from the Walkway altogether. It has always been our tradition to find fireworks somewhere. For years, we would meet up with friends in Cornwall, where my dad is from. Then we eventually moved over to Marist College, and watched the fireworks from the boat docks, A few years we would meet up with neighbors or old friends from my elementary school. Now, we thought it would be fun to watch the fireworks from the bridge, something my mom has always talked about doing.
So, do you get the theme going on here?
It's About the People You Love
Am I necessarily focusing on celebrating America? Not really. What I am doing, and what I have done, is celebrating the people who are most special in my life. I know this is not everyone's 4th of July, and this is my own unique perspective. I understand this is not everyone's experience, but from my awareness, this is a time where a lot of people can celebrate each other, enjoy beautiful weather, and make memories that will inspire. It's in these little things. It's in the smiles on the kids' faces when you play Spike Ball, Corn Hole or Bocci together. It's in the off-key Karaoke you do because all your friends are off from work. It's the glow in the eyes of of your family (related and chosen) when you light off some fireworks.
Is this nation perfect. By no means. I don't think any nation is perfect. I think media likes to pit ourselves against each other, and find plenty of ways to be divisive. Moments like I've described above; however, just come to show how more unified and connected we really are and can be. It's in the simple, beautiful moments together that we can be something better. So, this Independence Day, whether you attend any events or not, I hope you slow down, breathe, and enjoy the beautiful people in your life.