The Fourth of July 2010: A Short Essay
The Fireworks at Chesapeake Beach
On Saturday evening, Claudia and I went to see the fireworks at Chesapeake Beach. The waterfront was packed with families, the smell of barbecue wafting enviously through the twilight. We forgot to bring our foldable chairs and tried to get comfortable on a blanket while waiting for the pyrotechnics to begin. A gaggle of little kids darted over the large rocks of the breakwater. Despite the dexterity of these pixies, their parents harbored the eternal fear: their kids would slip and fall into the void. After the third reprimand, the kids were recalled to the blanket where they had to content themselves playing rock, scissors, and paper. To be nimble and tireless again and to have our own kids (little again) back on the blanket!
The fireworks were worth the wait and sore back. Crews fired rockets from two barges previously hauled by tugboats into the Bay. What a show: orbs, spirals, percussion, and sparkle showers soaring, falling waterward, fading. The most spectacular were bursts that formed thousands of bright strands — arcing skyward and descending as the breeze jostled branches of weeping willows. On several occasions, I heard mothers telling their kids, “here it is the grand finale” – only to have the second barge shoot off an even greater number of rockets.
Between the thuds, I realized that my wandering thoughts had missed what it is we celebrate. How our foremothers and fathers fought for our nation’s independence from colonial tyranny– their courage to take on the red coats and the spirit of rebirth that must have followed the victory.
Yet this reverie ended with a sharp edge. How are we doing 234 years after the Declaration? What would our founders say if they witnessed our current set of crises: the BP disaster in the Gulf, the financial meltdown of 2008 and economic aftermath?
Would Revere warn us that in this very hour we risk losing our independence to the growing power of an elite group of financial, energy and agribusiness giants? Would Tom Paine’s Common Sense point out the irony – the corporate behemoths have been able to obtain trillions of dollars in government subsidies (entitlements) and bailouts, while small credit-starved businesses fold and local governments are forced to cut vital services ?
What would Jefferson say to a Supreme Court that hands over to corporations the ability to contribute sums without limit to favored candidates – in the name of free speech? How would he feel about Monsanto’s growing grip on farmers here and abroad?
But these sages are long gone, and it is up to us. How do we wrestle back our democracy? How do we transform our economy so that it provides for needs of people and kind to the resources and other life supports that nature gives so freely?
Ekos2 — along with many other blogs — is an attempt to answer these questions, to provide both an analysis of the state we are in and solutions – many which are already popping up in communities here and everywhere. In the coming months we will feature these bottom-up efforts to recapture the American spirit so that two centuries from now our great, great, …., great grandchildren will be able to dance between the blankets.
We thank Wax Poetic – Blue Moon’s WordPress Blog for this photo. Check out this interesting blog.