The worst of the pandemic, perhaps, in the rear view; a nation tired and shaken looks for a way to celebrate its birthday in public for the first time in two years.
We spent the morning in Springfield Center, delighted and refreshed as the crowd grew in happy anticipation of the return of the Town’s rightfully heralded Fourth of July Parade. A joy to behold, a joy to talk with the participants as they lined up for the 11 a.m. step-off. Moms and dads, children and grandparents, friends and neighbors coming together on a postcard-perfect morning to celebrate the nation and salute the first responders, the veterans, the children, the bands so proudly marching by.
Then, the drive back to Cooperstown brings news of a wholly different parade experience in Highland Park, Illinois, one in which seven died and dozens were injured because this country has failed, repeatedly, to ban the sale of assault weapons. Because it was more important for Congress to pull a muscle patting itself on the back last week for passing “groundbreaking gun safety legislation” strong enough to barely break a pencil in half. Good job, Congress. You blew it, again.
Taking it all in took away the desire to stand under a canopy of happy fireworks which, this year, do little more than trigger PTSD and scare the fur off household pets and poor wild animals caught in harm’s unintentional way. We love a good fireworks display. Maybe not this year, though.
This year we needed a way to celebrate, and thank God for the good people of Springfield, Oneonta, and everywhere else in Otsego County hosting a parade as old fashioned and hometown as 2022 will allow. We can’t help but fear, though, that it could have been us in Springfield or Oneonta on Monday, running from some idiot on a rooftop with the assault rifle he was able to purchase, legally, all because there are too many people out there who think that the Constitution as written more than 200 years ago deserves to be interpreted as if today were the day that it was written.
We hope hardcore originalists reflect on the words of a genuine Original, Thomas Jefferson — his words literally inscribed in granite on the memorial in Washington, D.C., bearing his name:
I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as a civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.
These days, barbarism seems less a province of our ancestors than it does the crowd demanding James Madison’s document be followed to the letter of its colonial time. They’re wrong, and they’re making it awfully hard to feel celebratory when so many innocent Americans are dying in elementary schools, churches, grocery stores, and parades at the hands of their narrow-minded originalism.
Happy birthday, America. Hope you survive another trip around the sun.