TCS Daily


Happy Gathering

By Ralph Kinney Bennett - June 30, 2006 12:00 AM

Liberty is the air America breathes...
-- On a plaque in the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty

As usual we'll gather at Conneaut Lake, up in northwestern Pennsylvania, as we have, some of us, for forty years or more.

A lot of folks who bought fireworks on the way up will be anxious to use them and we'll hear crackers going off all weekend.

On the Fourth, toward evening, we'll build a fire on the little pebbled beach by the lake and line up a couple of picnic tables. Neighbors will bring hot dogs and buns, marshmallows and coleslaw, deviled eggs and baked beans and watermelon and potato chips. There'll be Cokes and iced tea and lemonade.

Some of the younger kids will have to be dragged out of the water by the dock and told to put their fishing poles down and we'll all gather around Mr. Hessler's flag pole and someone will give thanks for the food and for the families gathered there, then end with something like "we thank you God for this great country and for our freedom." It will be a loud prayer to be heard above the sound of the motor boats and jet skis out on the lake.

Then we'll eat and laugh, shielding ourselves from the heat of the fire with our free hand while holding our hot dog roasting sticks in the other. When the darkness finally begins to gather we'll throw another log on the fire, toast marshmallows and sit back to watch the fireworks rising in the sky over Conneaut Lake Park, just a half mile across the water.

It is unlikely there will be any discussions of the meaning of liberty or reflections on the Declaration of Independence and the men who signed it. No history lessons or patriotic readings. We'll just relax and joke and maybe sing a little, and after the fireworks we'll look at the stars as we herd sleepy grandchildren back to our cottages or drive home to tumble into bed to the sound of the last few firecrackers and bottle rockets.

That's the whole point of it, you know. The whole point. To be so free, so much a part of something unique and strong and wonderful, so safe inside that wonderful thing called the United States, that you really don't even have to think about it.

In the smell of that cook fire, in the giggles and shouts as the fireworks lace the night sky, in the warmth of old friendships, in all the unshadowed freedom of the moment, lies the essence of what we celebrate.

It seems too simple and almost irreverent somehow, this unspoken yet grateful intuition about liberty and independence. But it's really the sublime culmination of all the dreams and sacrifices of our forefathers -- this happy gathering for no other purpose than to enjoy the blessing of being Americans.

Ralph Kinney Bennett is a TCS Daily contributing editor.

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9 Comments

Happy 4th of July America
I must say however there is one thing better then being an American and that's being an Australian ;-). Have one for me Ralph.

God Bless the USA
Great article. So many of us in the US have no idea how wonderful we have it & how great our freedoms - and ability to protect our freedoms - are. I truly feel sorry for those who engage in the snide leftist bashing of patriotism, how ignorant can they be???

Independence Day: Celebration and Renewal
“those who engage in the snide leftist bashing of patriotism, how ignorant can they be???”

Some are indeed ignorant, but others have a “grand” plan for America’s future. It is a future where the few, the elite will use big government to oppress freedom in the name of the common good. The struggle between individual freedom and tyranny is at least as old as the human race and will NEVER be permanently resolved.

Independence Day is not just a day for celebration, but also a day to renew our commitment to the principles of our Republic. Without the commitment of each new generation of Americans, the forces of tyranny will relentlessly advance. It is our privilege and duty as citizens to preserve and extend the legacy of freedom for future generations.

come on
I think you missed the point of Ralph's great piece. Turning it into a leftie bashing session say's more about you then about anything else.

Hate to admit it, but wwgeek is right on this one
I usually disagree with wwgeek, but not this time. The article was a non-partisan celebration of America's freedom.

And if wwgeek has national pride and patriotism for being an Aussie, then more power to him. Australia is one of the world's great countries and a true friend (especially with Howard in power) to the US and freedom around the world.

It is not I who missed the point
“I think you missed the point of Ralph's great piece. Turning it into a leftie bashing session…”

It is not I who has “missed the point”. I agreed with Ralph. As an enhancement, I suggested that the American Revolution is not about an event, it is about a way of life. Its long term success is not assured.

Also, I did not “bash” any political party or persuasion. I stated that enemies of freedom exist and will always exist.

Yes you did miss the point
And refusing to accept that is indicative of your character.

You made a blatant reference to leftists:

"It is a future where the few, the elite will use big government to oppress freedom in the name of the common good. The struggle between individual freedom and tyranny is at least as old as the human race and will NEVER be permanently resolved."

Your point is clear. You and Whitehorse both missed the point.

I apologize if I'm being too harsh, I am disgusted when people obviously do something and then try to deny it.

Tyranny vs. Freedom
“You made a blatant reference to leftists:…Your point is clear”

I did not make a reference to “leftists”…this is YOURS and others interpretation.
Many rulers throughout history have used the power of government to oppress freedom. Examples include Julius Caesar and Genghis Khan…are these despots leftists?

The American Revolution was not about the left wing, the right wing or any political party/persuasion. It was about the freedom of citizens and the role of government. I celebrate the vision and courage of the founders, but the war is far from over.

Taking freedom for granted.
A nice family utopia, picnic in the summer, one of my favourite childhood memories. Yes there was a time where "We didn't have to think", about pediphiles in the camp grounds, we weren't worried about Illegal Mexicans hasstling the local kids for nickels and dimes, we just could relax and let the breeze take our minds off our daily living, and enjoy the laughter of the children, running around the trees.
This globalization, information, artificial intelligence, this un-natural age, where stress seeps into our bones, and the chatter in our minds is endless.Your in a transition age, melancoly, reaching for happy moments. Taking freedom for granted.

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