Almost 250 years, and still going
By Carole Townsend
Independence Day is just around the corner. The holiday means different things to different people. Some view it as a guaranteed day off of work, to be celebrated with a barbecue, a body of water and dazzling fireworks.
Others see it as the general halfway point of the year, and they begin their annual Christmas countdown. But there is a segment of the American population that reveres the day, that views July 4th as a marking point in history. They view Independence Day as a celebration of the establishment of a free nation, governed by its own people, free of economic and religious tyranny.
Myself, I see it as all of the above. I love the holiday. I love all things patriotic. I love red, white and blue. I love fireworks and barbecue, and as corny as it sounds, I love this country, warts and all.
My parents’ generation can teach us a few things about celebrating Independence Day. I have watched them my entire life – my uncles, my father, and my in-laws. Patriotic observances and holidays mean something to them. They fought in wars. They lost friends and made friends of a lifetime in foxholes and jungles and deserts around the world, and on home soil. Mothers and wives buried their sons and husbands. The luckier ones welcomed them home with tears of joy, but their lives were forever changed, having paid a dear price for the privilege of living in this country.
Decades later, they salute the American flag with pride. They are moved to quiet tears by solemn memorials and hometown parades. Independence Day, Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day hold personal meaning for them, and I have always respected that.
The United States, as happens every few decades, is in the painful throes of change these days. No matter where you as an individual stand on the issues currently gnashing at our nation’s timeworn cloak, the fundamental principles on which America was founded are still hard at work. There is debate, there is discussion and there is most definitely disagreement, but the system is in place and holding firm. That’s no accident. It is a hard-won system that at times depended on the blood and lives of the people who defended it.
There must be something right about a government that, theoretically, could destroy itself from the inside out, but hasn’t after nearly 250 years. Oh it’s bruised and limping, but this isn’t the first time the United States has had to lick its own wounds. I choose to believe that this nation will heal from its internal injuries. I choose to believe that it will emerge stronger for the battle.
This is a great nation, no matter what the emotional climate of the day might suggest. Its creation, I believe, is something to be celebrated with both reverence and festivity. This Saturday, spend the day with family and friends. Fire up the grill. Take a dip in the ocean, the lake or a backyard pool. Enjoy a local fireworks show (there are several to be found right here in Gwinnett); “ooh and ahh” in amazement with your children as the pyrotechnics light up the night sky. And be sure to take a moment to remember those who went before us, who gave more than we can imagine, to make the day possible.
Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. She writes about family, from both a humorous and poignant perspective. Her newest book, MAGNOLIAS, SWEET TEA AND EXHAUST (July 2014, Skyhorse Publishing) takes a look at NASCAR from a Southern suburban mom’s perspective. She is currently writing her fourth book. Carole has appeared on local and national news and talk shows, including CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates. When not writing, she travels throughout the region, speaking to various civic and literary groups, and advocating for the health and well-being of the family, particularly women and children. For more information, visit www.caroletownsend.com.