It's America's favorite holiday – you can celebrate with explosives, and no matter your persuasion, you won't be told off for your patriotic fervor.
But I feel the real meaning behind the origin of the holiday celebrated on July Fourth has been forgotten, either through neglect, indifference, or malicious intent. We celebrate Independence Day because we won our freedom from our then oppressors, the British.
Today, it's considered passé to exercise protected rights such as the right to bear arms, peaceably assemble, or voice your opinion if you're not doing it within the confines of whatever is considered politically correct at that moment. Some places, you can't be conservative, some places you can't be liberal.
People also choose to not utilize their rights, not realizing how integral those rights are to their way of life and the way they conduct themselves every day.
On the other side of the coin, these same people are lauded for their patriotism when they put on a tri-colored top hat, bunting on their houses, and walk in a parade. You're considered patriotic if you blow up some fireworks or other interesting explosives (unless you live near me, in which case you're considered extremely stupid for doing that).
But is this patriotism? I think not.
Patriotism is defined in the dictionary as “love for or devotion for one's country”. Can you display a form of devotion by putting up decorations and having a barbeque? Absolutely, but if you really love your country, that's just window dressing.
Real patriotism is going out to vote, and casting an informed and conscientious ballot. Real patriotism is paying your taxes. Real patriotism is helping out your fellow citizens, whether it be giving food to a needy family, handing a dollar to a beggar at an intersection, volunteering to make your community better, or promoting higher education. Real patriotism is knowledge of the law of the land (Constitution) and what it means. Know your rights, exercise them, and do good for your country and fellowmen.
Unfortunately, too many folks would rather keep their heads down, go with the flow, and only show “patriotism” on the Fourth of July. But don't be fooled, it's celebration, not patriotism.
My honest opinion? Although that's very disheartening and disappointing, they have the right to be as patriotic or unpatriotic as they want. If you want to trash-talk America, be my guest. Have a problem with the way things are? Try to change them. That's your right, and I'll respect it.
Happy Independence Day, everyone! I hope you enjoyed the fireworks, stayed safe, and had a relaxing weekend!
I'm a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the California Arcadia Mission.