“Two hundred and thirty four years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
As I celebrated our Independence Day this year, I could not help but think of those profound and majestic words spoken by Abraham Lincoln in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 19, 1863.
I was also fascinated by the fact that this was our 234th birthday. Being intrigued by numbers I wondered what would be the next year when July 4th would be celebrated in a consecutive numbered anniversary. The answer is (with an appropriate fife and drum roll please) 2121, our Nation’s 345th Anniversary and a mere 111 years from now.
But regardless of what year, what a day July 4th has become to our nation. Whether small town or big city, the celebrations differ only in size, not in enthusiasm or patriotism.
From sea to shining sea throughout our Nation, there were people lining the streets by the hundreds (or thousands or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands depending on location) as on each July 4 (ours in Naples this year was on July 3rd) to march in or watch patriotic parades. And I saw people of all ages wearing red, white and blue (including one patriot with red, white and blue suspenders) and waiving small American Flags.
And fireworks! What would July 4 be without fireworks? The rain couldn’t dampen either the fireworks or the people who poured out to see them from beaches or balconies. In fact the rain actually ceased where we watched from and the clouds cleared enabling us to see a horizon dotted with fireworks all over the area.
And, thanks to the miracle of DVR, we watched three and one-half hours of red, white and blue all star entertainment and spectacular fireworks from New York, Boston and our old home town, DC.
In New York, Justin Bieber and Enrique Iglesias hosted what was billed as the 34th Annual event from sites throughout the Big Apple.
Maybe the 34th on television, but I remember my parents taking my sister and me to Jones Beach on Long Island or to the World’s Fair location in Queens (the 1939 Trylon and Perisphere World’s Fair) as well as to other spots in the area, to view fireworks displays, one year more stupendous than the last.
This year, in Boston, on the Esplanade overlooking the Charles River, the Boston Pops played its traditional version of the 1812 Overture as the fireworks appropriately popped seemingly in rhythm with the band to light up the skies in what was billed as a celebration costing $2,000,000 and witnessed live by 900,000 people.
But to me the most thrilling and spectacular of them all was in our Nation’s Capitol where Jimmy Smits emceed what he said was the 30th annual Capitol Fourth. Again, I recall us taking our three daughters to see the fireworks on the Capitol Lawn years earlier than that.
Regardless, with the backdrop of not only the Capitol, but the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, the Washington Monument, the Vietnam and other Memorials, the hundreds of thousands (perhaps more than a million) who endured the security checks, the waiting and the traffic to and from (all recalled from the aforementioned personal experiences), were rewarded not only with fantastic fireworks, but with a stirring concert from the Washington Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Jack Everly—yes the same Jack Everly who is the principal pops conductor of the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra.
So another Independence Day celebration has come and gone. When I think of July 4, I remember not only these wonderful annual events, but the Declaration of Independence penned so painstakingly by Thomas Jefferson who perhaps appropriately died on July 4 and coincidentally on that same day in 1826 just hours before the death of another early patriot and signer of the Declaration, former President and some times protagonist, but often ally, John Adams.
July 4, 2010 has, indeed, come and gone. But July 4 2011 is less than a year away and despite our differences and problems, this “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”