grew up in a small town in the state of Montana, the great Big Sky Country,
as it is known to those familiar with the Western United States.
The 4th of July was always a joyous time when I was young. Not that it had any symbolic or patriotic meaning. It never did. But I loved the fireworks and hot summer nights. Shooting off bottle rockets and tossing smoke bombs under the feet of my unsuspecting brothers was a blast, literally.
I remember my parents packing the car and driving all of us out to a fireworks show in a small town near our home. People traveled for miles, filling baseball fields, bleachers, and pickup truck beds -- arriving early just to get a good spot on the grass.
My memories of that time were blissful. A sort of naïve existence I led.
No longer do I have the same feelings about our fervent national holiday, as I have come to realize that so many children across the world aren’t happy on this very day. Instead they are suffering at the hands of US imperialism. From Iraq to Palestine, to Colombia, and back to the states. Yes, as the resources are spent to expand the American empire, many children in this country also endure the consequences. These youth will never have the opportunity to be young and idealistic, for they have already lived years past their ages.
If anything, this day is one that should remind those aware of what the United States represents to most of the world: that our brutal military policies, and consumptive nature must end in order for mankind to survive.
It should not be a celebration of so-called democracy that does not listen to its dissenting public voices, such as presidential candidate Ralph Nader's, during election year.
The fireworks exploding in the sky should remind us of the weapons that blast and shake the foundation of life around the globe.
Indeed, July 4th should be our annual wakeup call. Not a time to blindly wave a flag that represents so much anger, racism, contempt, and hatred for the rest of the world. This is one American that doesn’t agree with the tactics of his dirty Uncle Sam. I guess this is the greatest freedom we have however -- to voice opposition at the most tremulous time in our nation’s history.
In fact it’s our duty as Americans.
Joshua Frank is the author of the upcoming book, Left Out: How Liberals Did Bush’s Work for Him, to be published by Common Courage Press and is a contributor to CounterPunch’s forthcoming book, Dime’s Worth of Difference. He welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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