Thursday, July 4, 2013

2013.07.04 Happy 4th in the Home of the Free

Why do I tear up when the piccolos toodle “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and the cannons boom to the mighty 1812 Overture?

I suppose it’s this thing of aging—a salubrious combination of sentimentality and gradual letting go of fretting over girth or acting goofy-happy.

Last evening we watched a 1985 documentary about the erection (well not really but a fun thought nonetheless!) of the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor. Ms Liberty was a gift from France to celebrate the centennial of American independence. The gift is significant, in part because the French knew how difficult it was to maintain the spirit of liberté egalité, fraternité against the pull of monarchy and other ills of control politics.

I grew up in NYC in the shadow of Lady Liberty, besides the Empire State Building. We used to go on Circle Line cruises and wave to her. What moves me most is that the statue is not a symbol or power, or even success, but rather a symbol of promise. America values independence, and freedom even more. The great statue’s torch, held so high and with such somber-faced dignity, reminds us not to forget our reason to be. Perhaps this is a bit like the sanctuary lamp that burns in churches remembers to us the promise of divine grace.

Boston strong turned into Boston nasty over the refusal to bury one of the Marathon bomber terrorists. Will Boston turn scared now as we face another mass celebration, ripe for bombs? I doubt it. We are patriotic, in spite of the Patriot Act.

Boston’s annual July 4th celebration this year will go on in its own spectacular way. The security will be tight,very. Some Bostonians will remember the pain and fear of bombings at another of Boston’s great traditions, the Boston Marathon on Patriots Day. Certain behaviors and items will not be permitted, including styrofoam coolers on wheels, non-transparent drink containers, trash cans, any homegrown fireworks, propane tanks for grills and NO BACKPACKS.  That's a lot of lifestyle change. I hope they let the kids have sparklers.

I’m proud to be an American and proud to be a Christian.  I weep for the joy and privilege of it.