Sunday, July 01, 2007


The Fourth of July when I was a kid meant cookouts or picnics
with hot dogs, hamburgers and lemonade. Sometimes there were
small fireworks set off by the adults but more often than not we’d
end up at Franklin Field in Dorchester watching big fireworks
shows there while kids ran around waving sparklers.

In my teen years after we moved to Abington the cookouts were
more common as multifamily picnics faded away. My folks joined
the VFW so the holiday was a day they were marching in parades.
Fireworks were at the Abington’s Night Before The Fourth event
which also included a large bonfire down behind the Frolio School.
And in the first years after we moved here, sometimes we’d get in
the car and drive around looking for fireworks in the sky.

As I got older, the marching aspect of the Fourth continued as my
brother Phil, after years watching my folks march, joined a drums
corp. So he’d be marching somewhere as well! There were still
cookouts such as those held down in Marshfield at cousin Bobby’s
place but I rarely went along to now. By then the Fourth meant
a day off from work and a chance to sleep in for me. The Night
Before the Fourth became an annoyance as the crowds had grown
bigger and people would park anywhere they could, including in
my parking space or in front of our driveway. But I still would sit
on the stone wall outside the house on Monroe Street and watch
the fireworks myself.

Nowadays, there are cookouts, somewhere, but I’m not there. I’m
working; time and a half plus holiday pay is a thing I can’t afford
to pass up. My apartment has no view of the fireworks those years
the town has them; every year now becomes a drama of whether
or not enough there is enough money for The Night Before the
Fourth. So I watch the broadcast of the Boston Pops concert and
fireworks from the Charles River Esplanade.

Maybe I’ve become cynical in my middle age. It seems as though
the Fourth of July doesn’t have as much importance to as many
people as it did in earlier times. In 21st century America, holidays
are just excuses to run another themed sale. the Fourth of July is
no different from another holiday to the stores: Bargain Blast!
Revolutionary Savings! Commercials tout products with shots of
fireworks while a Souza march plays in the background. And even
though many stores won’t see a lot of sales, none of them will be
the first to blink and close for the holiday next year, because
they’re afraid they’ll lose customers to their competition.

It’s the 21st century. Stores and businesses stay open on Sundays
and even on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Why should the Fourth
be any different?

I found the Revolutionary War Pension Records of several of my
ancestors on over the last few days. I wonder
what they would think of us now? They fought for a country
based on “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

I’m afraid that now its more like “Life, Liberty, and the
pursuit of Profits.”

1 comment:

Janice said...

I agree that the Fourth of July has become overly commercialized.

But I'm sure if our ancestors would boggle that we can turn on a television set and watch the fireworks, they would be in awe.

I just wish that there was a larger focus on exactly WHY we are having these fireworks... as some have forgotten.