“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
I am so “old” now that I have buckets of “when I was a kid,” “when I was a teenager” and “when I was a young adult” stories.
In fact, yesterday I was even accused of being “a middle-aged woman who should know better,” whatever THAT means.
But anyway, here we are…celebrating the 235th birthday of our country’s Declaration of Independence from the British Empire.
That document, written mostly by Thomas Jefferson and signed by the 56 delegates to the Continental Congress, was one of the many steps that led to the freedom that we have as citizens of the United States of America.
One of those freedoms is to celebrate the 4 of July holiday any way we want to (but, first, you know, do no harm).
Here’s where the “when I was a kid” part comes in. My Dad used to buy us firecrackers for the 4th and after dinner, we’d go outside and play with them in the backyard.
The ritual was never anything fancy…just waving sparklers around and setting off a few very tame little things that mostly just made smoke and popping sounds.
My father always lit the fuses on the tame things and we would all watch whatever it was they did and then we would make swirly waves in the air with our sparklers.
Oh…and we always lit them on the driveway pavement as a safety precaution.
Nowadays, Red Devil stands sell firecrackers that seem to be akin to bombs and missiles and teenagers delight in setting them off at unexpected times during the week leading up to the holiday. The cats are thus suddenly awakened and immediately go into High Alert, “what the heck was that?!” mode.
Personally, I’m a tad uncomfortable with the notion of unattended kids setting off bombs and rockets in the middle of a hot, dry summer. But that’s the glory of America…those who want to can, and those who don’t, can stay home and guard their dogs and cats.
I didn’t actually go to my first fireworks show until around 1982 when a friend drove us down to Venice Beach. I don’t remember a thing about the show, but I do remember what it was like when 100s of people all tried to leave in their cars at the same time. The word “standstill” comes to mind.
I’ve been to many fireworks shows since then — at beaches, parks, rivers, Cal Expo, River Cat Stadium, etc. For awhile I even had an apartment downtown from which I could watch the show in Old Sacramento from my window.
And I LOVE fireworks shows even though the big crowds can be a hassle. But I figure the gridlock afterwards in the parking lot is all part of the tradition of the celebration.
Some folks would like to see personal firecrackers banned and I admit, I used to think that was maybe not such a bad idea because of the fire hazard.
But…on the other hand, there we’d all be with another dadgum regulation on our hands and it’s like, Enough already!
I think back to how my Dad showed us by example how to be safe with firecrackers and matches. And I figure, parents nowadays are still capable of doing that sort of thing. I hope….
We have the 4th of July because the Founders gave us the gift of independence from too much government. Why would anyone want to give up freedom by giving the government more control?
Firecrackers can be hazardous if not used properly, but Personal Responsibility can cut down on accidents more so than some dumb law could.
And it’s just a simple fact that LIFE is often a very hazardous undertaking. The government can try to regulate every single freakin’ danger out of our lives, but it will never, ever succeed.
Happy Birthday to We the People!
©July 2011 by Phyllis J. Hanniver