I’m not a huge fan of the Fourth of July. No, I don’t hate America. I just am not a fan of holidays where merchandising and consumption overtake the spirit of what the holiday was really meant to be about. Parades and fireworks shows are fine and dandy. They inspire civic pride and they’re nice community events, but I don’t enjoy them all that much.
Warning: I’m heading into “Get off my lawn” territory here. The thing I really despise are backyard fireworks shows. They’re noisy, smelly, dangerous, and they are left smoldering all over. Yes, I’m sure fireworks are just like the Battle of Fort McHenry.
The whole day doesn’t make me feel all that patriotic. I really just feel lousy after it all. Since I don’t like being mopey, or a debbie downer, here are patriotic events I enjoy much more than the Fourth of July.
- Patriots Day in Boston. This is the ultimate civic, patriotic holiday to me. There’s the historical reenactment of the Battle of Yorktown to remind people of a pivotal event in American history. There’s a day Red Sox game to get people out and about. And there is the Boston Marathon. I loved getting out and cheering strangers while they take on a challenging feat. (And with the bombings a few years ago, the whole day has become even more meaningful.)
- Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery. This was my favorite place to go in the D.C. area. It’s peaceful and quiet. I visited twice on Memorial Day to pay tribute to my cousin Philip, who was in killed in Iraq. They give out roses to visitors to place on graves. It’s a respectful, meaningful ceremony to those who we lost.
- Proper flag ceremonies. At Tomahawk, there is a giant flag pole (I want to say it’s 50-feet high, but I don’t remember.) Regardless, it takes a team of 12 people to get it down and properly fold it. When I was a scout, we would also retire unserviceable flags. Those made me stop and reflect on what the flag really meant.
- Proper Star Spangled Banner. When I covered a game for the paper, I loved it when a student would work up the courage to sing in front of the crowd. It gave the whole night a more hometown feel. I despise the canned national anthem. It’s so hard to take it seriously and I’m guessing most people in attendance feel the same way.
- USWNT & USMNT games. Ok, so my patriotism isn’t all wrapped up in seriousness and solemnity. I loved going to the game in Chicago. And watching the women’s team take the World Cup last year was a ton of fun. It’s fun to root on your team against the rest of the world.
- Citizenship Ceremonies. I haven’t been to one as an adult, but I love reading about them. Here are a few dozen people who worked their butts off and studied to become citizens of our country. They probably know more civics knowledge than you do.
I realize that I’m a bit of a crank on this holiday, but remember that patriotism involves more than wearing a shirt with a flag on it, yelling #Murica, and blowing stuff up.