Happy (Bittersweet) Fourth of July!
It is only appropriate to start an Independence Day post with those words, or something similar. The “bittersweet” portion of this post is what follows.
While the wish is sincere, it is a qualified greeting. That is because the simple joy of this day has been tarnished to the point that it is now bittersweet.
Why a bittersweet Fourth of July?
Fourth of July used to be an unabashed day of celebrating our nation’s storied history, escaping the tyranny of British rule and fighting boldly to keep our independence when the colonies’ freedom was at stake. That celebration extended to the gratitude felt for our continued freedom, and the sacrifices made by our military, both then and now, to keep us free. That is the “sweet” part.
The “bitter” part is watching the freedoms we have long celebrated being systematically trampled on, as personal privacy, liberty and adherence to the Constitution get eaten away little by little by the current administration. Does NSA’s Prism program or the suspension of habeas corpus ring any bells? This post is not to document the many instances of this, just to make a point.
As this nation is led down a path where freedom and privacy become more and more scarce, the celebration of this day becomes less joyous and carefree than it has been in decades past.
See, I told you this was a bittersweet fourth of July greeting!
The good news
This country is wonderful and I am grateful beyond measure to have been born and raised here. I honor and celebrate the bravery and sacrifice of our servicemen & women who continue to make this country what it is. I choose to be a law-abiding, tax-paying citizen until my last breath (or until/unless obeying the law and obeying God become mutually exclusive. God will always have my first allegiance). My heart still swells with pride when the national anthem is sung (and yes, I also have a big soft spot for Lee Greenwood’s, I’m Proud to be an American).
I embrace our country’s past and look to our future with a cautious cynicism. That is what makes this day bittersweet, and why I dole out “Happy Fourth of July!” greetings more carefully these days.
Now, go shed this bittersweet greeting and enjoy the heck out your family, friends, great food and fireworks. Or whatever it is you’re up to on this wonderful day.