Friday, July 1, 2011
4th of July
I am not a particularly patriotic person. There are some major qualms that I have with the American ethic and the way we view our position in the world as well as our personal positions in the universe. Gorging ourselves and invading places, dictating rules onto others, etc. etc. But there is something about the 4th of July that really gets me.
The sticky-hot long summer days that lead up to this holiday are the stuff of Midwestern childhood memories. They're colored like intsagrams and filled with lightening bugs and sweet fresh fruit. Cousins and siblings and more cousins. My grandfather pulling up in his big red dump truck from a long day of asphalt laying. A motherless child from Jackson Michigan who built his own company, fell in love deeply once and forever, and worked double jobs to feed his seven daughters. I guess it doesn't get more 'American' than that.
He was a relic of a time when men signed up to fight in wars that they believed in-- before that could mean being militant, blood thirsty, or irretrievably right-wing. He loved the 4th of July, because he loved simple things. Cold busch light. Hot dogs. And this country. The quintessential and cliche trappings of American summer holidays. It seems strange that I should find any of it charming now.
But this holiday, unlike others, just gets me. Maybe its the idea that for one moment, across this divided country, everybody turns to the sky to watch something beautiful. There is some basic understanding that, for just this little while, we're not so awful. And we made those red hot sparks in the sky.