When does the spirit of the Fourth of July end?

The wonderful part of yesterday, the Fourth of July, was how everyone came together with patriotic fervor to celebrate our country’s independence.   We were united as Americans in a show of community.  But today listening to the politicians in Washington, to candidates for the presidency, to local New York state politicians argue about what is best for this country, promoting aggressively their own agendas without seeking enough compromise to satisfy everyone, then I wonder why we come together only during tragedies or celebrations.

Yesterday I went to the Fourth of July celebration in Saratoga Springs.  The day began with the Firecracker 4 Road Race, a four-mile run with 2500 runners.  Then came a parade brought up at the end by a group of dog owners and their dogs, many dressed up in little patriotic doggy costumes.  People milled around the streets of town, shopping, dining, and enjoying the $1 samples of BBQ and desserts provided by local restaurants.  Everyone was friendly.  Children loved the dogs, the dogs loved the attention, the food was good, the antique car show was fun for reminiscing, and the family activities in the park followed by the fireworks made for a memorable Fourth of July once again.

But then came the fifth of July.  Back to politicians bickering, back to the oil spill in Montana, back to the Casey Anthony trial, and divisiveness.  I don’t think we could ever manage a world with total acquiescence on all issues.  That wouldn’t even be an interesting life.  Still, patriotism was so strong on 9/11 and yesterday, flags flying everywhere.  It’s best to overlook those Americans who didn’t even know what country we got our freedom from or what year or why and those Americans who thought of the 4th of July only as a great day off from work.  We took a drive around Saratoga Lake, one of the most beautiful and scenic lakes in New York, and observed all the parties and the swimming and boating, but also standing out against the clear blue sky flying proudly from boats and docks all along the shore was the American flag.  So maybe it’s true that most people do feel more than a twinge of patriotism on the 4th of July.  Maybe those dogs strutting their stuff along Broadway felt proud to be American dogs.  Maybe all of the antique cars in the park were actually made in America.  Maybe barbequed pork sliders and strawberry shortcake truly represent the American 4th of July celebration, and maybe the idea of America is still strong somewhere on the 5th of July.  Do we really need  a 9/11 disaster or the Fourth of July to fly the flag and come together as Americans in working for what’s best for our country?

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