Picnics for Patriotism

You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism. ~Erma Bombeck

by Dani Yokhna

Independence Day was always one of my favorite holidays as a kid. My whole family would go over to my grandparents’ house for a cookout, where I would get to gorge myself on delicious hot dogs and burgers, and after dinner, we’d all sit in the yard while my dad and grandpa would shoot off fireworks amidst oohs and ahhs from the rest of the family. Once I became a little older, I was allowed to light one or two fireworks in the mix, and I’d spark the fuse and giggle with delight while I ran to safety and got a good seat for the imminent light show. And don’t even get me started on the sparklers: I practically lived for those during my childhood summers.

Today, the Fourth of July is still one of my favorite holidays, even if my reasons for thinking so have shifted a little bit. My family still gets together for the annual cookout (though the fireworks quotient has definitely dropped as I’ve gotten older) and those burgers and hot dogs still go down easy, but now, I realize how lucky we Americans are: we are able to get together with the people closest to us and celebrate this wonderful country and the wealth of freedoms it promises. As Erma Bombeck so eloquently says in the quote above, it’s a delight that our country celebrates its independence not by feats of military strength, but rather by allowing its citizens to congregate with those they love.

Farmers may not get the day off work, like the rest of the work force, but I hope that you were able to take a little time to appreciate America yesterday, whether it be a fireworks show, a family cookout or something as simple as raising a flag. Yet another beauty of our country: you’re free to celebrate Independence Day however you choose.

I wasn’t able to make it home for the annual Garber/Hershberger Independence Day cookout this year, but I did spend the holiday with friends who have come to be as close as family, and for that, I am grateful.

I hope you all had a relaxing and enjoyable Fourth of July!

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