(c) by Mary Griggs

I love the 4th of July. Some of it is because it is the one holiday I don’t have dress up for–no nice clothes like for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter or even Mother’s Day. Heck, I haven’t even put on shoes yet today.

The food for Independence Day is wonderful and never pretentious. I started the day with making blueberry muffins, lunch was deviled eggs and an oatmeal peach betty, dinner will be ribs that are cooking low and slow on the grill as I write this accompanied by boiled corn, potato salad, and baked beans.

But more than just a celebration of sloth and gluttony, the 4th of July unites the citizens more than any other religious or civil holiday. We get to have an acknowledged day to celebrate the birth of our nation. The Republic didn’t just happen; it was brought into being consciously and that early spilling of the blood helped imbue us all with the ideals of liberty and justice.

That doesn’t mean that we need to love this country uncritically. Thomas Jefferson said, “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” Benjamin Franklin said, “It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.” I could go on with quotes like that but the point is best made by Charles Schurz who said, “My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.”

I’ll end with one of the more famous lines from John F Kennedy: “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”