A day independent: Students should consider what they celebrate

Sam Smith / Opinion Director

sam.smith@fiusm.com


 

Grilling out, going to the beach, watching fireworks, waving sparklers, eating popsicles and painting the country red-white-and-blue – today is the day the US gets a little more patriotic, just for a little while, in remembrance of the struggle which gave America life as an independent country.

We all know the history behind today’s date – at least, that of July 4, 1776. However, the “birthday” of the United States of America has much more historical significance than our celebrations give credit.

Some of the most quintessentially American things happened on this date – countless flags and anthems were strategically released on July 4 in order to commemorate the advent of the country. We run the risk, though, of losing sight of the significance of celebrations by commercializing them into Hallmark holidays.

From Holi to Hanukkah, Eid al Fitr to Easter, the purpose of most festivities is to appreciate something in the company of those one appreciates – no matter what, this fact should not be forgotten, or else there is little point in holidays at all. While I can’t imagine that many people are wholly opposed to celebration, it should be taken into consideration what should be celebrated, and how.

This article is unlikely to fundamentally change the ways in which people celebrate the U.S. Independence Day, but perhaps it will make a few of its readers consider how they want to appreciate their country. Why not try exercising a right afforded by the Constitution, or perhaps use one’s democratic power to gain traction for a worthy movement? Instead of exclusively categorizing Independence Day as time off and celebrating America as it is, we should celebrate what America could be.

Perhaps we should take a cue from Thoreau, who began his simple-living experiment on this day in 1845, about which he would write his novel Walden. Instead of blindly celebrating a holiday for the sake of its being one, we should take time to exist, and to reflect upon our values. This Fourth of July, we should take Thoreau’s lead and try to live deliberately, and not, when we come to die, discover that we have not lived.

About the Author

Sam Smith
The Beacon - Editor-in-Chief

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