This past Saturday was Independence Day in the United States. Or, as Americans refer to it in their local vernacular, the day of barbeques, beer, high-powered explosives, beer, blown off fingertips, a drunk Florida man putting a saddle on a gator, beer, sparkler sword fights, beer, and FREEEEEEEDDDDOOOOMMM! And maybe some eagles and shit. Independence day became an American holiday after winning its independence, which effectively began when a bunch of men donned Native American garb and stormed a British merchant ship, and tea-bagged the British Empire.
Of course Independence Day is also highly regarded as the day Will Smith saved planet Earth from interstellar invaders. It’s true. I saw it on the History Channel, which as we all know, is the prime academic authority on all things extraterrestrial. Aliens. X-Files. Wookies. The History Channel has you covered. But actual history on the History Channel? Fuck no! But I digress.
As for myself on the 4th of July, I had been invited to a barbeque at my brother’s place with his family. However, before I had a chance to head over to his house, I received a message from a lady friend asking if I’d like to go to the river with her, relax on the beach, swim a bit, and hang out. And being the faithful family member and perfectly good and loyal sibling I am, I did what any good man would do in my situation. I texted my brother on why I was going to be quite late to his barbeque and fireworks smorgasbord. His response, in good brotherly fashion was, “Do it!!”
And so, I eventually arrived at my brother’s house where I joined his family and my parents in the great American tradition of using fire & flame, charcoal, cussing, and beer to scorch various meats until they resemble somewhat edible bits of compressed carbon. Burnt meat and beer! ‘Murika! In truth, dinner was marinated, baked chicken and seasoned zucchini and squash. And beer. Still very good, mind you. But everywhere else around the country, Americans were most assuredly doing what we normally do, and that is to flambé our meats with a World War II era flamethrower. Because freedom.
After the sun went down we all gathered in the cul de sac with the rest of the neighbors to begin the fireworks displays. Several households contributed to the accumulated pile of flashy and festive explosive materials. This is despite the fact that a package of fireworks today costs approximately somewhere in the neighborhood of ***checks calculator*** about $15,487. Or roughly the equivalent of purchasing a small car, a semester of university tuition, or three Starbucks frappuccinos.
But this exorbitant cost of fireworks did not deter Americans from getting their freedom on! Quite the opposite actually. There were so many fireworks popping off for so long, it honestly sounded like a warzone. I wonder if that this year, each American family probably spent close to half a billion dollars, or about the cost of a small house in San Francisco, on fireworks. There were the usual fireworks flashing in the night sky, in addition to what I’m sure was tracer fire from anti-aircraft flak guns, .50 caliber machine guns, and a surface-to-air missile or three.
The booms, bangs, whizzing sounds, small explosions, and sirens lasted most of the night. It reminded me of that grainy, night vision footage of Baghdad during the Gulf War when the allied coalition began airstrikes on the city. It was pretty obvious that with everything going on in the world, especially in this country with the Coronavirus, it didn’t stop people from celebrating Independence Day. In fact, it seemed to have the opposite effect. More and more people than before came out to enjoy the holiday and celebrate with friends and family. It was as if Americans were even more encouraged to celebrate, as if in their own way to symbolically and defiantly do battle against this unseen enemy that currently plagues the world.
Americans came out in droves, and by firing enough explosives and weaponry into the air to defend London during the Blitz, was their method of saying, “We are not afraid! We will win!” It is definitely an American trait. To stare danger and adversity right in the face without backing down, to look a threatening enemy in the eye and kick it right in its dangly bits. During this year’s Independence Day celebrations, it seemed Americans did just that in order to do battle against the Coronavirus, and against the fear and uncertainty in life it brings.
I just hope it doesn’t have any adverse effects. Doing battle against an enemy that threatens and attacks you still requires a strategic plan. That’s why armies have generals. In order for America, and the rest of the world to win this battle, we all have to be smart about this. I’m not saying that people setting off fireworks and Civil War era cannons weren’t being smart. I’m saying that when we are staring this enemy in the face, we should remember to be smart, be safe, and also be considerate of our fellow humans.
I have no doubt that despite everything, we as a people will win this battle. We will get through this. We will prevail. And after that battle is finally won and we can all move forward with our lives, Americans can move on to the next important battle that we have been fighting for at least a hundred years.
And that is the battle against people who drive slow in the fast lane.