I look back on my youth with what can only be described as sappy nostalgia. I think back to a much less complicated era before we were digitally assaulted with information, when the apex of technology was a video game with 32bit graphics or a 14 pound laptop.
It was also a time when concepts like patriotism and American pride were more than bumper sticker fodder. They were part of our ideals, part of what makes us uniquely American
Back then holidays like Independence Day, Memorial Day, or Veterans Day were so much more than an opportunity to have a day off from work. Those holidays served to remind us how far we have come as a Nation, how we got here, and at what cost. We memorialized this because to forget runs the risk of repetition. More than that, we memorialized these events to pay homage to the struggle, sacrifice, and to the indomitable American Spirit that has made us who we are. I fondly remember 4th of July celebrations being awe inspiring, spirit lifting, all day events packed with parades, picnics, fireworks and music. Communities got together to celebrate being American. Yes, these events were most often accompanied by some politician’s speeches, but the events themselves were never political. It was to be expected that we hear inspiring words from our leaders, if for no other reason but to instill unity and reinvigorate the American ideal.
This past Independence Day was something quite different. This year, we witnessed the major network news broadcasters refuse to televise the national celebration. We saw scores of Trump critics hanging on his every word in hopes of finding a violation of the Hatch Act. We also had protests at the event itself. Flag burning, vitriolic rants, effigies of the President, all present and vying for 15 minutes of Fame and Eternal Social Media Glory.
The shenanigans weren’t limited to the leftists, either. Also in attendance were far-right thugs, and scores of people choosing to make this celebration a “MAGA” event. Of course there was conflict. How could there not be?
As a matter of fact, in spite of every pundit and 2020 hopeful pontificating that this celebration was to be by extension, a Trump campaign rally, and much to the disappointment of the Hatch Act watchdogs, it seems the only ones that made these events political were the protestors themselves. The President kept his remarks to those honoring history and praising our armed forces.
Rather than celebrate the birth of the country that guarantees our freedoms, these folks decide instead to deface the celebration to further their own agenda. This is not the American ideal.
Much has been said about the cost of this event, and that we displayed our military prominently. We have now been at war longer than many of these protesters have been alive. We have lost untold numbers of young Americans both in combat far from home, and here, at home, by their own hands. We sent these kids off to fight for our country, whether you agree with the war or not. We sent them, and they fought. They fought from a sense of duty, not to a political party or ideology, but to their country. They’re Americans. In return for that duty and sacrifice, they deserve to be recognized. They earned that honor.
Independence Day. Memorial Day. Veterans Day. Even Labor Day. They all serve to honor the American Ideal. Leave the politics out.