I spent several years of my childhood living outside of Boston and much of my adult life as a Philadelphia resident or working in Washington, D.C. I've witnessed incredible Fourth of July celebrations from the Boston Harbor, Independence Hall in Philadelphia, and the U.S. Capitol. As an American history aficionado, the Fourth of July is meaningful for me.
The Declaration of Independence is the written explanation to the nations of the world for the Second Continental Congress vote for the colonies' political independence from the British Empire. The Declaration states: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
America, born imperfect in 1776, has come a long way toward living up to the Declaration's lofty language.
I fear that the country's 244th birthday this year could be one of the last times we celebrate the Fourth of July as a united national holiday.
If that sounds crazy, here are some other ridiculous ideas you probably never imagined:
- Over 125,000 American deaths from a pandemic despite advances in medicine
- Portions of a city taken over for weeks with the encouragement of the mayor
- Police precinct buildings taken and burned
- Statues of American presidents and heroes defaced or torn down
- Individuals defying CDC recommendations to wear masks as a political statement
- The city council defunding and disbanding the police force of a major city
At a time, the country must come together to fight an invisible enemy; we remain bitterly divided. Gone from this year's July Fourth celebration will be patriotic parades, community picnics, and crowded fireworks displays. This year's July Fourth holiday was already in peril last winter when the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the U.S.
It didn't have to be this way. By early May, it looked as if the U.S. would follow the same pattern as Italy, Germany, Spain and France in getting the pandemic under control. I wrote then that with a "few more weeks of continued diligence (to CDC guidelines), we could have a Fourth of July that we will recognize."
Of course, that is not what happened. Dr. Anthony Fauci testified Tuesday before a Senate committee that new coronavirus cases could rise to 100,000 daily.
If you doubt Fauci, consider that we have exceeded 40,000 new cases in one day several times in the past week. Until now, we had never reached that threshold.
The question remains, why is America the only country to get daily new cases down to 1% only to see the pandemic rebound? The answer: There are a lot of idiots in this country fueling anger and division.
What's particularly sad is that it's not just health precautions that divide us this Fourth of July. We have lost the ability to come together and celebrate a time when we put our differences aside to become the United States.
In mid-May, people, mostly conservatives, decided to end the stay-at-home orders. Many held rallies, often in front of their state capitols, usually without masks. In their anger and righteousness, they helped reignite the embers that now have the country setting records for daily new COVID-19 cases.
Then, after the tragic killing of George Floyd, mostly peaceful protests began, but some protestors used the opportunity to engage in arson, looting, and the destruction of millions of dollars in property. By June, the protests that began in Minneapolis spread across the nation. Some on the radical left brought the mayhem and destruction to other cities. Peaceful demonstrations that turn violent inflame the anger of most Americans. Further, government officials at nearly every level failed to control the protestors, even excusing them, are also complicit for the spike in coronavirus cases.
The current wave of COVID-19 now underway sets a record number of new cases almost daily, in large part because of the protests from the right and left.
I understood and was sympathetic to removing statues of Confederate generals – if done legally and orderly. Civil War statues, however, were only the beginning. Still not content, the mobs began toppling statues of Christopher Columbus and even abolitionists. There are demands to remove statues of Abraham Lincoln, U.S. Grant, and Theodore Roosevelt. Princeton is eliminating tributes to Woodrow Wilson from its campus – which I'd go along with if we also tear up the income tax amendment Wilson signed into law.
It's gotten so crazy that there are serious conversations about eliminating the names of Washington and Jefferson from buildings and monuments. There is even talk of removing Mount Rushmore (a feat worthy of the Taliban in Afghanistan).
Will the cancel culture, which has effectively already eliminated Columbus Day, set its sights on the Fourth of July next? It's not hard to imagine the holiday that celebrates the birth of the nation many find so distasteful and created by wealthy white men – many of whom owned slaves is on the cancellation list.
Hopefully, we'll continue celebrating Independence Day. The holiday reminds us that the founding fathers, flawed as they were, put aside self-interest to compromise and sacrifice. Each Fourth of July gives us another opportunity to move closer to the promise of the Declaration that all are created equal and have unalienable rights.
If this year is to be the last Independence Day celebration, thanks to coronavirus and the deep divisions within the country, the Fourth of July will end with a fizzle rather than a bang.
Andy Bloom is president of Andy Bloom Communications. He specializes in media training and political communications. He is regarded as one of the leading radio programmers in the country. Andy served as communications director for Rep. Michael R. Turner, R-Ohio. For more information, his website is www.andybloom.com. Read Andy Bloom's Reports – Go Here Now.
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