The Afterglow


(Dept of Labor)

Independence day is like Christmas. Before both holidays we’re inundated with banners and songs and sales as the anticipation builds for the big day. But once it’s over – once the last present is opened, or when the glow of the Grand Finale fades from the night sky – you can’t help but feel a little empty.

But that’s when the true meaning of the holidays usually hits me. Christmas isn’t about presents, and Independence Day isn’t about fireworks.

The 4th of July marks the day we declared that we would forever stand as a free and independent nation, no longer shackled to a distant monarchy. Most of the ceremonies we see today date all the way back to 1777 when parades were held, speeches were given, and fireworks were shot into the sky.

For me, the day is a celebration not only of what our forefathers did over two centuries ago; it is also a celebration of what we are today. We’re Americans, and there are no others like us on the planet.

The rest of the world probably doesn’t get us, because we’re different than them. But if we’re so weird, why does everyone wear baseball hats nowadays, or listen to rap, or eat at McDonalds (ours, ours, ours)? The only time I ever rode in a Rolls Royce, by the way, was in Hong Kong to get to the airport. We asked the driver to stop at McDonalds on the way, and proceeded to chow down on cheeseburgers and fries in the back seat. Why? Because we were Americans, and that’s what Americans do.

Do you want to get a feel for what the real American spirit is? Think back to September 12, 2001. On that day you could feel it; you could almost touch it.

And it’s still there, if you look close enough. We’re brash, loud, and friendly. We love life and we love our country and what it stands for. On Independence Day we celebrate the birth of our nation, yes. But we also celebrate what that country and its people grew up to be.


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