“You see my kind of loyalty was loyalty to one’s country, not to its institutions or its officeholders. The country is the real thing, the substantial thing, the eternal thing; it is the thing to watch over, and care for, and be loyal to…” – Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
July 4th has become almost as controversial as religious-based holidays like Christmas and Easter. The people of the United States seem to have become the most outspoken in the world when it comes to complaints regarding holidays. Only here in America could we sustain individuals who possess the liberty to moan over and criticize occasions of celebration, feasts, and memorials to courage.
People find the stars and stripes distasteful. Football players take a knee in the midst of the National Anthem. The message being sent damages the image of the United States, its icons of freedom, and – most importantly – the men and women who have sacrificed their very blood for its birth and continued endurance. Rather, people who respect their homeland should showcase the patriotism of which Samuel L. Clemens (better known as Mark Twain) wrote about in his politically-charged novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.
This patriotism is authentic. As Clemens directs the reader’s train of thought in his novel, loyalty to one’s country is not respect or even loyalty to its politicians and government leaders. However, this patriotism takes shape as a genuine love for one’s country, for its protection, for its outstanding freedoms, and for the preservation of its foundational elements, which are the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Today is a time to enjoy parades and pyrotechnics, grilled dinners and popsicles. But, like any good holiday, Independence Day should not be sugar coated to the point that we lose sight of what it is for. Today is a specified time on the annual calendar to sit back and enjoy what makes the nation great, to reflect on those times of benevolence as well as those of misguided action.
It is good to dwell on both aspects of the country’s history and see that, through thick and thin, the country has grown. We grew out of bondage. We grew out of being hypocrites of freedom. We grew to display equality to people of both sexes and every race. We grow, and we do so together.
Now is the time we take in the outdoors, the comforts of family and friends, home and food. It is a time of gratitude. Our thankfulness and admiration should reach out to our Founding Fathers and all the American soldiers who have come and gone ever since. Today is theirs. This country is theirs; the flag is theirs. To dismiss and show contempt for the flag and the celebration of July 4th is like spitting in the eye of anyone who has served in this country’s military.
Independence Day deserves recognition and not disregard, respect and not disapproval. Happy 4th of July!