Despite picnics, barbecue, and fireworks, nearly everyone agrees that Fourth of July is not what it used to be.
It used to be a happy day off to celebrate our country. Now everyone seems to be complaining about everything. Take one not-so-hypothetical family celebration.
“The problem is big government!” one exclaims. “We need to just get rid of big government and that will solve everything.”
“It’s taxes!,” says another. “That’s what killing us. We need to cut taxes across the board. I can’t make my new car payments, student loans and pay my mortgage.”
“I can’t make it anymore on my Social Security,” an older baby boomer brother chimed in. “It’s not right.”
And so each had their own grievances, some complaining about too much government and others claiming not enough government benefits.
At the end, someone made the comment that, with this government, there really wasn’t that much to celebrate this Fourth of July.
With that, there was a lull in the conversation that left everyone uneasy. At that moment, the elderly grandfather unexpectedly spoke up.
He was now a frail old man, a World War II veteran who had known hard times of the Great Depression and good times and prosperity. He had difficulty getting around.
Now he stood before them with an air of dignity saying: “Yes, government has changed. But you know something, we’ve changed, too.”
“When I was growing up, families looked after their own members. We didn’t need or want handouts. We managed, even if we didn’t have the latest gadgets or the best car. When there were problems, everyone pitched in. Times were hard, but we were happier.
“Today, it’s all about money. Back then, money didn’t rule everything. People had honor. People weren’t afraid to be leaders and accept responsibility.
“We knew the difference between our government and our country. Politicians are one thing and America is another.
“No, America should be more like a family. When the family’s in trouble, everyone pitches in. I pitched in. I served my country because America is my country. Many of my buddies served too… and some didn’t return.”
The old man paused before continuing, “We complain about government but we’ve become just like the government we criticize. We’ve got the government we deserve. We should get our own ships in shape. We need to return to order.”
The old man settled down in his lawn chair .The silence was now deafening. Everyone in their heart knew that he was right.
At that moment, a rocket soared into the night and burst in air and the darkness was lit by a marvelous display of light and a mighty boom. There was something grand about the way the fireworks exploded that stirred the hearts of those who watched and filled them with awe and pride. At least for an instant, they forgot about their own problems, and celebrated that special something called America.
(Our thanks to John Horvart II for sending this Independence Day column.)