Patriotism has taken a hit in recent years. Especially during the 4th of July. In some circles it’s fashionable to slam the U. S. of A. — to punctuate its flaws and denigrate its virtues. Other camps seem to have confused love of country with an exaggerated sense of purpose. Either way, decorating the porch with red, white and blue bunting feels a little off kilter this year.
I’m old enough to remember the national exuberance during the Bicentennial celebration in 1976. That summer, tall ships filled New York and Boston harbors. Johnny Cash served as Grand Marshall at the U.S. Bicentennial parade in our nation’s capital on the 4th of July. There was an official Bicentennial logo and commemorative postage stamps, coins, license plates and other merchandise.
Disneyland and Disney World hosted America on Parade. Local communities painted benches, fire hydrants, mailboxes and phone booths in patriotic colors. The popular Schoolhouse Rock! series created America Rock to teach youngsters about American history and government. (Throughout the year, I proudly wore the shirt my mom hand embroidered using the Betsy Ross animated character from the series – seen here.)
That summer, the wave of patriotism drenched America from coast to coast. We loved it. It felt refreshing to celebrate our nation on the 4th of July. To acknowledge our history with a sense of accomplishment even as we emerged from some difficult moments including the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal.
By many accounts, America is having a difficult moment right now, in 2023. We are polarized. We are mean-spirited. We are worried.
Which is precisely why the 4th of July is a good time to pause and ponder the fundamental and enduring values we continue to hold dear. It’s okay to do that even as we acknowledge our shortcomings. And it’s possible to respectfully observe nearly 250 years of achievement from a posture of humility.
Here’s a start. A carefully curated selection of F-words worthy of celebration this 4th of July, from the pages of our own history: