I LOVE Independence Day! It is one of my two favorite holidays—the other being Thanksgiving. Reasons? Both are uniquely American holidays—a celebration of who we are as a people and a country. Also, you know what to wear and pretty much what you’ll be eating plus there are no gifts involved. So two very un-pressured holidays!
In Milwaukee (where I have made my home for most of my life), the big kick-off to the celebration comes on July 3rd. That night there is a spectacular fireworks display at the lakefront (as in Lake Michigan). A bazillion people come from all over to set up their blankets and folding chairs and grills on the grassy slopes of the park that faces the lake. Staking a claim to a primo spot starts a week ahead of time with people marking their territory with string or even crime tape. And the remarkable thing is that NO one stands guard over their claim and NO one disturbs or trespasses on those claims!
As you can imagine with thousands of people crammed into a relatively small area, there’s gonna be trash—and there is, but the amazing part is that most people are very polite about bagging their trash or putting it in the receptacles provided. Even the stuff that gets left is completely cleaned up by noon on the 4th!
The actual 4th is reserved for community activities in the many neighborhood parks and suburbs that fill the city and surrounding area. There are parades with kids on decorated bikes and scooters, bands, politicians seeking votes and hometown heroes. That night there are fireworks all over the place—you can stand in one spot and see them going off up and down the coast of the lakefront.
For me it is America at its best! Regardless of race, political persuasion, ethnicity, religion, gender, or age, we come together as one people unified in a love of a country. Now that’s my definition of America, the Beautiful!!
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