Summer’s version of Christmas

Michael A. Cioffi

Everything in America is now politicized: sports, Hollywood, music, corporations, TV, the media, education, our Constitution, even religion. Don’t we realize that by allowing this, all we are doing is giving credence and praise to politicians? How many local, state or federal government representatives do we truly admire? I submit not very many. Why then, do we allow the rest of them to completely control every aspect of our lives?

When I was a youngster in Connecticut, The 4th of July — Independence Day — was the summer’s version of Christmas. I spent the day with my extended family; my mother, uncles and aunts, and maternal grandmother. My sister, cousins and I played ball, lit firecrackers along with those “fireworks” that turned into little ashen worms. The adults cooked hot dogs and hamburgers on half of a fifty gallon drum, with a real charcoal fire ignited with paper and twigs.

When early evening finally arrived, we all crammed into several cars and drove the twenty minutes to Seaside Park along the shore of Long Island Sound. We’d spread out our blankets on the grass, run around, snack and wait not very patiently for the huge and exciting annual fireworks display to come. Just before the show, the National Anthem blared throughout the park. We’d all stand, hands on our hearts and SING ALONG!

My Hungarian immigrant grandmother’s tears would start flowing because of her pride in being an American citizen, her loss of a son in World War II, and her witnessing, via television, the bloody anti-Communist revolution going on in her native land. It was a lot for all of us to take in, but it instilled an unwavering patriotism and a passion for all things worthwhile. We talked about history, not politics.

For the past too many years, I have allowed myself to forsake those roots in favor of politicizing Independence Day. I have helped promote and organize political party groups to band together in opposition to the “enemy” on the other side. I’ve spent this wonderful American Holiday preparing offensive and defensive ploys to establish our edge over the opponents.

NO MORE! I had forgotten that this day should be spent with family to try to instill in it an unwavering patriotism and a passion for all things worthwhile. I am afraid we’re missing a powerful teaching moment in time by not imparting to our young people what’s right according to our own principles and core beliefs. I realize families have scattered and changed, but maybe it’s time we try to bring them back together as a unit at home for this meaningful, summer holiday, not as a faction on a battlefield, and talk about history, not politics. For those of you already doing this, God bless you!

— The writer lives in Castleton

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