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.
I appreciated that quote because I've often given pause to the question of why we, as Americans, always wish each other "A Happy Fourth!" Perhaps for the same reasons we always wish each other "Happy Easter" or "Happy Thanksgiving" or "Merry Christmas."
Why not "Happy Martin Luther King Day" or "Happy Veteran's Day" or "Merry Labor Day?"
"Happy Valentine's Day" and "Happy Halloween" on the other hand make perfect sense. As does chocolate.
But "Happy New Year" and "Happy Birthday" anymore?... not so much.
I don't know what caused me to reflect on this. Perhaps it started with Berkeley's blog and how the last line of "The Star Spangled Banner" ends with a question mark.
Don't get me wrong, I am extremely thankful for all of these traditions and they make me "happy" usually. They bring family together, they take us away from the routine and mundane for a day or two and provide us with an opportunity to try out some new recipes, to pick up the phone, to shop for that perfect outfit, to spend money that we don't have... and all the while supporting Hallmark. Trust me, I am taken in by it all just as much as the next one.
But today I thought I'd try to think, just for a moment, about some of the true struggles and sacrifices, which were endured by real individuals.. just so that I could have this "day off."
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And just one little personal story because right here, right now seems like the appropriate moment...
In 1980 I was dancing in "A Chorus Line" at the Shubert Theatre on Broadway. One night, early in January, we were blessed with the amazing opportunity to perform for the 52 Iranian hostages who had just returned to the United States by way of New York.
I don't know if anyone is familiar with the big "finale" of the show but at the climactic moment the back partitions turn to create a golden sunburst. Anyone who's seen it will appreciate it's impact. But on this night, instead of the sunburst, a HUGE American flag dropped into place. None of us were expecting it and I will never forget attempting to finish that grueling number with such weep-age building in my chest. I vaguely remember seeing the lights reflecting on the tears of that entire audience. And it's not that easy to see the audience typically, but this night I did. It was a moment I will never forget.
Later, we got the chance to meet each one of them individually in the greenroom. I remember them being ushered in and, though my first reaction was how grossly thin and haggard some of them looked, I was so moved by the complete expressions of joy and gratitude on their faces. I think that was probably the first time I ever actually stopped to ponder the blessings I had been given or how thankful I was to be able to live and breath so freely.
**Sorry... this was the only picture of Old Glory I could put my hands on at the moment. *g*
Anyway... a very "Happy" Fourth to all!
And now if you'll excuse me... I think there's probably some potato salad out on there on porch that's about to go "iffy."