Monday, July 04, 2005

Happy Independence Day

It's the inscription below the American Flag on Low plaza at Columbia University.

The best 4th of July fireworks display I ever watched was on July 4th, 1999, as a New Cadet in Beast Barracks at West Point. The fireworks launched from the Hudson River below us seemed like they were exploding right over our heads. Packed together on the grass below Trophy Point, I was one with a thousand young men and women dressed in identical white-over-gray who would be officers of the United States Army.

I'm not a big fan of the parades, red white and blue bunting and even the fireworks, and all the other frills we customarily use to celebrate the day of our nation's spiritual birth. To me, all of that is a cheap show. Real patriotism is service, duty and responsibility and the sacrifice of citizens for the greater good of people and nation - you can probably see where I'm going with this. To me, the real celebrants of Independence Day are today in the mud or the sand, not bedecked in blazing red white and blue, but in practical patterns of desert or woodland camouflage. I think we would do a better service to the spirit of Independence Day if on July 4th we did a lot less partying and pageantry and a lot more deep refresher work on the meaning and value of our country and the responsibilities of citizenship.

Read the Declaration of Independence:

- Eric

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