The Fourth: Red, white & blue all through

I love everything about the Fourth of July except the fireworks. Love the parades with decorated bikes and trikes, dogs with colorful bandana collars, babies waving American flags from their strollers, marching bands with patriotic music, etc.
But not the fireworks.
I even like parade-participating politicians. And, the picnics, beaches, shade, lounges, convertibles, potato salad, tents, horseshoe pitching, etc.
But not the fireworks.
I don’t mind the oohs and aahs or the noise or one or two streaking things after dark, but the idea of shooting money in the air, especially if it’s my money, bothers me. Businesses are subjected to all kinds of solicitations; charitable, class projects, street decorations, the mayor’s vet bill, pothole filling, uniforms for vagrants and fireworks.
The firework shooters wait until after dark, when businesses are closed, shoot all this money in the air over lakes and atop hills, for 20 minutes and all watchers go home, say, ‘Wasn’t that nice!? And they don’t even ask who paid for the banging, thus depriving the merchants of an occasional ‘thank you.?
Oh, what we pay for temporary satisfaction.
Americans do not have to light a firecracker or shoot a gun to celebrate Independence Day. We can simply review pledges we learned in grammar school, or parts of the Star Spangled Banner or Preamble to the Declaration of Independence.
In the 1890s James Blaine said the United States is the only country in the world to have a known birthday. There have probably been some since, but none can have the meaning as our democratic society.
‘I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands. One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.?
How great is that?
‘O say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light, what so proudly we hail at the twilight’s last gleaming — whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight, o’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming!
‘And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there, O! say, does that star spangled banner yet wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave??
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‘When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal stations with which the laws of nature and of nature’s God laws entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
‘We hold these truths to be self evident: That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness . . .?
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This from James Russell Lowell, 1819-1891:
Our fathers fought for liberty,
They struggled long and well,
History of their deeds can tell —
But ourselves must set us free
So, this July Fourth may we pause, if for only a few minutes, and reflect on what we have here in these United States, given us from sacrifices of so many.