July 4th is like the Casmir Pulaski Day of America. For those of you who live outside of Illinois and never got that first Monday in March off, Casmir Pulaski was a Polish general who trained military troops during the Revolutionary War. Dude actually saved George Washington’s life (at least, that’s what Wikipedia says). Since Chicago has a pretty large Polish population, politicians decided that IL should celebrate the day and take some time off. Today, nationwide, we’ve all decided to take the day off, even though the rest of the world has manned their cubicles. We’re celebrating our independence, our resolve, our legacy as Americans. Light up the fuckin’ sparklers, it’s Independence Day.
By the way, you’ve officially been un-Americaned if you haven’t seen ID4.
If I were to take a second to be completely honest though, this day’s never really been about Independence for me. Hell, I’ve always wanted to go to England, and I think we could all use a little more BBC in our lives. Separation from England is a bit of an abstraction for me, seeing as I’ve never had to deal with them acting as a strong-armed international superpower like they were back in the 1700s. And though the 4th of July is a great day to celebrate the troops, that’s something we should be doing every day. So when it comes down to it, July 4 tends to stick out from the other 364 days in one particular way: fireworks.
My first memory of fireworks is almost petrifying. I don’t know how old I was, I just remember being up on my Dad’s shoulders, worried as hell that I’d fall off (I had an issue with heights even at that age, it seems), and then it happened. A bright green flash, and a huge explosion of color that I thought was going to rain down from the sky and ignite me in flames. I screamed. The whole time, I think. But that’s not my point, just a funny story I thought I’d share. 🙂
Since then, I’ve become much more comfortable with fireworks. Partly because I’m not as sensitive to the booming explosions, but mainly because fireworks have always brought the people I care about together. Some of my best memories involve fireworks: listening to the SkyConcert while sitting in the family minivan with Mom, Dad, and Little Sister, sitting on the Jefferson St. bridge with my high school friends before the big show, standing outside of Cinderella’s castle with my great friends back in California. Fireworks have an uncanny power to bring us together as one united, awe-struck audience.
Fireworks remind me that, even as I embark further into my own independence, I’m still dependent on my family, my friends to keep me strong. Our country, regardless of how much it tries to stand alone, is dependent on the rest of the world to keep it strong. I think we’re all the same way. So today, as you grill your burgers, eat corn-on-the-cob, and watch the fireworks across the country, remember that we not only stand for independence, but that our strength lies in dependence. (See what I did there?)
Happy 4th of July, everyone.
P.S. If you want to grin from ear to ear, watch a few seconds of this awesome Rockford firework vid.