Independence Day, the 4th of July, has been a federal holiday since 1941. The celebration goes back to the American Revolution. On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence from Great Britain and the tyranny of King George III. Two days later, on July 4, delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence drafted by Thomas Jefferson. Ever since 1776, the 4th of July has been celebrated with fireworks, parades, concerts, picnics, and barbecues.
Erma Bombeck quipped, “You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.”
A few years ago I was strolling around Red Square in Moscow in July, and I recalled the Cold War scenes of soldiers, tanks, and missiles parading beneath the Kremlin Walls. Who were the Russian leaders trying to intimidate—the west or their own people? Both, probably.
We anticipate a contentious election year contest as citizens vote for one of two entirely different visions for our future. But unlike other places in the world, the military will not get involved, there will be no riots in major city squares, no one will die, and voters will not be intimidated. If our president is defeated, the transfer of power will be peaceful. How fortunate we are.
Recently I received an email from a professional tour guide in Egypt. She suffered a painful injury to her foot, which has been in a cast. I asked how she was coping with the turmoil, and her remarks made me feel fortunate to be an American, living in the peace and safety of a leafy suburb. She said, “My foot is again swollen after going to vote. I had to walk a long distance and go up three stories to the polling place.”
“I am not happy with the election,” she declared. “We had to choose between the worse and the worst. We don’t want the Muslim Brotherhood candidate as we believe that they want to take Egypt back to the Middle Ages.”
“The other candidate is Mubarak’s former prime minister. I had to vote for him just to prevent the arrival of the Brotherhood. As we say, ‘squeeze a kilo of lemon and go to vote.’ (Lemon gives bad food a better taste.)”
“The Brotherhood was slapped when a court order dissolved Parliament, which was led by the Brotherhood before the election. The military issued a constitutional declaration making the generals the nation’s legislators and giving them control of the budget. They will dominate the security system after reshaping a key National Defense Council to keep it under their control. The generals will oversee the process of writing Egypt’s new constitution. I see the military council as a protector of the identity of the state against the Brotherhood. They are not a purely Egyptian party, but an international one.”
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi won the election with 51 percent of the vote, proclaiming that he will be the “president for all Egyptians.” In a closely divided and passionate nation, future unrest is a possibility.
Yet, my friend remains optimistic. “Egyptians are not violent people. We just want to live in peace and justice. We love to laugh, and laugh even with tears in our eyes. We wait to see what the days have in store for us, and I believe that Egypt is blessed and protected by the great Lord’s hands.”
If “iffy potato salad” is our biggest problem on the 4th of July, we are blessed. Freedom is never given, it is won. People are fighting and dying in the Middle East and elsewhere for what American patriots have fought and died for in the 237 years since 1775.
On July 4, salute Old Glory. Long may she fly over the land of the free and home of the brave, a country bought and paid for with the blood of citizen soldiers!
Lewis Walker, CFP® is a financial planner and investment consultant with offices in the Forum on Peachtree Parkway in Peachtree Corners, GA; 770/441-2603. email@example.com.