Living in Society

Independence Day 2018

Flags at Oakland Cemetery -2012

Independence Day is an American holiday if there is one.

A group of military veterans discussed participation in a local Independence Day parade via email. A member made this post:

I will not participate in the July 4th parade. This government is committing atrocities all over the world and locking up children is a heinous crime. I take a knee to this and stand with Frederick Douglass who said, “your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.”

Being American is complicated. We are a diverse nation scarred by our original sins of slavery and unjust exploitation of what our forebears encountered here. We have not found our way out of the wilderness and may never.

We should take time for a bit of history on Independence Day. Reading an 1861 account of Independence Day in Jones County, Iowa has become a tradition for me. Find it here.

As we gather for special food and festivities this Independence Day, I hope we take time to consider our neighbors and walk in their shoes for a while. I mean the neighbors we don’t really know. Only then will we have a chance to make it out of the wilderness to an America worth knowing — and maybe we’ll feel more like participating in parades.

~ First posted on Blog for Iowa, July 4, 2018