I still remember the first time my parents took me to the laser show at Stone Mountain Park in Georgia. It was the Fourth of July; I was 5 or 6 years old; and there were hundreds upon hundreds of families sitting on picnic blankets laughing and toasting, munching and celebrating as children chased each other through the grass waving illuminated blinking red, white and blue toys in the air.
It was one of those perfect Georgia summer evenings: no rain, a gentle breeze, a long sunset.
And then the laser show began. I will never forget how magical it was to see those lasers dance across the mountain, forming patriotic, American stories with each color. And of course, the finale of what seemed like an hour of glorious fireworks as Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” played on the loudspeaker.
The Fourth of July, the celebration of our independence as a nation, has always seemed to be this delightfully nonpartisan holiday. You would think on a day like Independence Day, there would be more back and forth of left and right, Trump vs. Obama, liberal or Democrat dividers.
But one thing I’ve always enjoyed about the best fireworks day of the year is that every American, every resident living on American soil, every guest and tourist, can put to rest the division of our parties and raise a glass to our freedom.
It’s as if we get one day each year where we all get to be free – together.
I can’t remember, in all my years of celebrating the Fourth, anyone ever getting into a political spar, a fight, or someone storming out of Fourth of July festivities. I can’t remember anyone turning someone away from their barbecue or hot dog cookout because they didn’t vote for the same party. I can’t remember anyone ever saying there were no events for their children to attend or that there weren’t at least two fantastic and fun options available for the family where everyone was welcome to mix down the middle.
The Fourth of July is the best open ticket of the year. It’s a day when we get to see and appreciate where we come from and think about all those who walked before us. It’s also a time, for many others, to celebrate the American experience and their love of a land not their own.
People like my husband, for example, who didn’t grow up with the images of Lady Liberty and the pride of the American flag but come to appreciate why Americans fight so boldly to defend her, even with all her warts.
So when I think about all the children who went out this week to celebrate the holiday and enjoy the fireworks, I remembered how many Independence Days I enjoyed growing up and how special those memories are for me even all these years later.
I hope all of you, whatever kind of American you are, had an enjoyable Fourth, ate a few hamburgers off the grill and cuddled up with family for a fireworks show. I hope you all enjoyed a day of camaraderie among all of us here so blessed to stand on her soil.
Greenwood’s song is still worth singing all these decades later. I think we might all agree, “There ain’t no doubt I love this land. God bless the U.S.A.”