Independence Day, a day so engrained in every American’s mind, we simply call it the Fourth of July. The day invokes scenes of a nation partying once a year, like Gatsby’s summer guests in line for a grand celebration—soaked in hot dogs, beer and watermelon. Fireworks light up the night as we toast the grand experiment of freedom and supremacy. We celebrate our ancestors, our service men and our pioneer spirit in the grand exercise of democracy.
At Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies, baseball will again occupy a city like it did soldiers in battle during the civil war of a frightened public the summer of ’41, when Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio hit safely in 56 games before enlisting in World War Two. The pastime, which still holds sentimental value in even the most casual sports fans’ heart, will fade to a fireworks display announcing another year of America.
Locked in the ballpark on this day, are memories of my summers. I sold lemonade at the park for five years. In heat amplified by the enclosed concourse, I carefully mixed lemon juice and sugar water to serve to an already sweet-obsessed public. Independence Day is the ballpark’s Black Friday and whatever holiday mind frame others rejoiced in, I dreaded—despite my mastery running a lemonade stand.
The average order on a hot day was two large lemonades. At a ballpark with well-compensated owners, this totaled $11 or one and a half times my salary for an hour. On the fourth of July, my stand would make 100 times over my compensation for the day. It’s a system that many workers cannot get beyond. All hope that rings back into the ears of those laborers, between blasts from well hit balls and fireworks, are those words King George III read in Britain on his throne 237 years ago today.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
What we really celebrate on the Fourth of July is the enactment of an ideal. Thomas Jefferson’s famous words, in the Declaration of Independence gave a blueprint path forward to secure that freedom, and allow everyone to seek personal growth through God’s will.
The Fourth of July and its accompanying document are the greatest thing to ever happen to the world.
While Martin Luther, Guttenberg and Einstein may have created mechanisms for change, the words signed by the Founding Fathers resonate in every aspect of the modern world. Every free country, from Libya to Canada, began its journey with the writing of this document. Every ideal for change, from Egypt to Kosovo, found its foundation on this day. Every wall that has fallen, every Apple product, every Ford Motor Vehicle, every Nintendo and every spaceship, lifted off today.
Of course idealism does not enact change. We have learned this time and again. Slaves, who recognized their own freedom as a person, had to endure the Civil War. Women’s freedom to vote took protest. Underprivileged and underrepresented people, communities and countries, must fight for their own Independence everyday. And the Colonial army had to pull off a come from behind victory to celebrate July the Fourth.
The next time someone says that idealism has no pragmatic qualities, please bring up the Fourth of July. This is the greatest experiment in rising to a standard of excellence. It’s the dream that a lemonade worker on the at a ballpark will one day buy a whole section of fans a round of the lemonade he once sold at a fireworks game.
American Independence is the belief that we are striving for a country where all persons are created equal. It’s an ideal that the world’s people can pursue happiness among the shelter of life and liberty. It is the knowledge that our heirs will celebrate this holiday’s 500th birthday.