Independence Day 2009

We’ll see fireworks tonight. My father-in-law doesn’t watch them. They remind him too much of Vietnam and everything that happened there.

Fireworks, rockets of light designed for spectacle, can point to our darkest times. I had a fiance call off an engagement as we were getting ready to go see some. For years after I would describe the night as being “filled with fireworks, all the wrong kind.”

Tonight they’ll be light again. Airy. Shining and shimmering streams of color. Oh we’re in a deep recession, yes. Things are not easy. Yet somehow, the burden of being an American has lessened. Guantanamo is still open. We’re still in Iraq. Afghanistan has darkened. An election is Iran is a sham.

Still, you can climb up to the crown of the Statue of Liberty for the first time since 2001. It’s significant. When you go, you can be proud in a way that we haven’t been able in a couple of administrations. You might even be bold and recite Emma Lazarus’ famous words: “Give me your tired, your poor. Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” The promise of their embodiment is closer that it has been in too long.

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