Friday, July 7, 2023


A reminder of what the flag means

Fourth of July, my favorite holiday, comes and goes quickly. Just a little time to think about the ideals of our Constitution and our complicated history of trying to achieve those goals. I wonder why we are the country we are, why we are admired and hated, and why so many people continue to want to come to this country.

We normally watch the PBS celebration just to see the fireworks. This year, though, I smiled at the thousands of people who crowded into the public space in front of the Capitol. What a glorious time they seemed to be having as they swayed, clapped, and sang to the music by a variety of performers such as Babyface, Renee Fleming, Boyz II Men, and Brenda Carlisle. It was good to see the Capitol grounds filled with happy people, together, waving flags, standing closely, or dancing with each other -- a stark contrast to January 6, 2020, when rioters filled the air with their ugly chants and swung bats and threw objects through the Capitol windows.

I saw just a few masks in the crowd this year. With COVID now more endemic than pandemic, I am mask-free, for the most part, at last. I still gasp at the thought of 1.13 million Americans who died from COVID. I continued to wear masks long after many people stopped and have avoided catching COVID though 3 faraway friends have come down with it in recent weeks. I am less and less cautious now. I stopped wearing masks in grocery stores and other less crowded places. Yesterday for the first time I walked into the pharmacy without one. I still keep them for the few times I've been to the airport and on flights and at the doctor's office. Bill and I went to the reverse boycott of the Oakland A's a couple of weeks ago along with about 40,000 other people and I even walked through the crowded food court aisles without a mask (fingers crossed). Yet we haven't come all the way back. I still see people wearing masks, I've noticed that stores don't carry all the products that used to be easily available, hotels and restaurants aren't staffed as thoroughly as they used to be, and there are still things missing from our lives like civility and responsibility.

I looked at the Fourth of July crowd with hope and marveled that for a brief period, so many different types of people could gather at the Capitol and celebrate their best selves. 

America is a land of contradictions too: July 4th and 5th are dates noted by the Gun Violence Archive for having the most mass shootings during the year. We have had enough this year already. We have more guns than people in this country. Enough already.

Check out the information posted at the Gun Violence Archive:

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