Fourth of July really is more than fireworks
July 1, 2014
By David Hayes
Libertarians believe in the maximum amount of personal freedom without government intrusion.
Over the years, they’d point to an encroachment of the government of these freedoms in the name of public safety, including seat belts, motorcycle helmets and traffic cameras.
I was all ready to rant about the erosion of my freedom on the Fourth of July to blow stuff up in celebration of our country’s independence. However, trying to find any place to legally blow up fireworks these days other than the parking lot of Fireworks City at the Indian reservation where they’re bought is becoming more and more futile.
My ability to light off impressive aerials shouldn’t be curtailed just because of a few bad apples that can’t avoid blowing off their hand or lighting their neighbor’s roof on fire.
But then, a childhood memory resurfaced that made me reconsider my libertarian rant. It involved one of the best Fourth of Julys I’d ever had and it didn’t involve a single firework.
When I was in grade school, my mom got together with her core group of neighborhood moms and organized a block party in our backyard. The theme was potluck and everyone brought his or her own tasty dish, and I do mean everyone.
My mom decided to go door to door and invite the occupants to the party. For 30 or so houses down the street, everyone said yes. Shocked by the turnout, she had to break out quite a few more folding tables to accommodate all the newcomers.
With so many eating so much good food, we needed another activity to draw all the “men folk.” Across the street, our neighbor had a driveway basketball hoop. So, we had a three-on-three tournament. To his dying day, my dad couldn’t believe I chose for my first team pick the local high school basketball star over him.
I have no recollection who won the tournament (though I’m pretty sure my team beat my dad’s) but that almost seemed beside the point. The play went deep into the evening with everyone, winners and losers, going home content at the shared camaraderie.
When the day was done, all the plates cleared and friends gone back home with satiated appetites, only when it was bedtime did it dawn on me that not a single firework had been lit. It seems we found a way to celebrate the true spirit of American exceptionalism without worrying about public safety. We don’t need skyrockets in flight to be reminded why this remains the greatest nation on earth.
Today’s youth do need a reminder of that “why.”
A wise man once put it this way: “The U.S. is the first time in the history of the world where a government was organized with a constitution laying out the rules, that the individual was supreme and dominant, and that is what led to the U.S. becoming the greatest country ever, because it unleashed people to be the best they could be. Nothing like it had ever happened. That’s American exceptionalism.”
So make this Fourth of July an opportunity to set aside all that is wrong in America and celebrate what it has gotten right — hot dogs and apple pie.