Each week I start writing this column by typing the date of publication at the top of the page. This week the date was July 4. It sure caught me off guard, this summer is just absolutely flying by. The Fourth of July is kind of the halfway mark of the summer in my world and I just cannot believe we are already here. It also means we are about a month from our county fair. Yikes, I had better quit thinking or I will give myself a panic attack.
In addition to marking the halfway point of summer, the Fourth of July is a big holiday in my world. I am not sure how the rest of the world sees this holiday because when you are from Wamego your view on the Fourth is skewed. The Fourth of July ranks fourth on my list of holidays behind Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving.
I suspect holidays have special meaning for us in agriculture because it is kind of a calendar marker. When I was younger, the Fourth of July was the day you wanted to have wheat harvest done by. It was the break during the summer and if most of the work was done, Dad would come to the parade with us and maybe even buy some fireworks. But only if harvest was done.
When I was a little older it was a big holiday socially. It meant a trip to town for the parade, a jaunt to the carnival and maybe a get together at a friend’s house. It was a chance to see school friends that I had not seen since May. I am not sure my town friends understood the importance of the holiday but it was super important for us more “isolated” country kids.
My hometown of Wamego has always done a great job of celebrating the Fourth, it is kind of our thing. We have one of the largest parades, a carnival, activities and, of course, the fireworks. The fireworks display in Wamego is the largest I have ever seen and quite possibly one of the greatest displays of volunteerism ever. Yes, the entire show is volunteer led and run. If you have never seen it, you should experience it.
Of course, the most important part of the Fourth is to celebrate the birth of the greatest democracy the world has ever known. It is a time when we should all take time to appreciate the fact that we have been so lucky that we could take part in this grand experiment of governance. No other nation has ever been as successful as the United States of America.
I know the news makes us look like we are not functioning very well. There are times recently where I found myself questioning whether our democracy was broken and if we had fallen victim to being controlled by either end of the political spectrum. History has a way of soothing those fears. I suspect if we would take a good look at our history, we will find times where our government was in just as much deadlock and divisiveness. After all history has a way of repeating itself.
The encouraging thing about reviewing history is that we can see that we have survived similar periods and my guess is that we came out stronger on the other side. Does that mean we should not worry? Absolutely not, we should remain vigilant as citizens and protect our rights and our democracy with every fiber of our being. Outside of our religion, the freedoms and rights afforded to us as citizens of this great nation are our greatest possession and should be treated as such.
The best news is that as citizens of this great nation we can change the direction we are going in. However, it does take action on our part. The biggest threat to our democracy is apathy and not being involved in our own governance. That is why it is so important for each of us to take stock in what is important to us and to get involved politically. It does not mean we must dedicate our entire life to politics but rather to make our voices heard on issues of importance to us.
That is the real reason the Fourth of July is so important to each of us. Sure, the parades, BBQ and, of course, the fireworks are great but we must on lose sight of the real reason we take a break each summer. Each one of us should pause a minute to celebrate our great nation and our great democracy by pledging to do our part to maintain the freedoms and rights we are promised by taking an active role in the guidance of our government and look forward to many more Fourth of Julys to come.