Well Papa go to bed now it's getting late
Nothing we can say is gonna change anything now
I'll be leaving in the morning from St. Mary's Gate
We wouldn't change this thing even if we could somehow
Cause the darkness of this house has got the best of us
There's a darkness in this town that's got us too
But they can't touch me now
And you can't touch me now
They ain't gonna do to me
What I watched them do to you
So say goodbye it's Independence Day
It's Independence Day
All down the line
Just say goodbye it's Independence Day
It's Independence Day this time
- Bruce Springsteen, Independence Day
I'm not good with holidays, and Independence Day is particularly hard for me. When I was in about fourth grade I was really proud of my flag t-shirt and navy shorts with the stars of the flag on them (the shirt was tucked in, of course, and the shorts had bunchy elastic that forced the shorts to sit right at my belly button. Horrific!). My family went to my best friend's house to celebrate with her family and other friends and someone commented on my overly patriotic ensemble. Apparently at that time it wasn't cool to wear such an organized outfit. Anyway, I've questioned myself ever since. On any holiday or occasion when dressing up or wearing certain colors is encouraged-- you will find me at home ransacking my closet and second-guessing what I should wear.
I know little about what Bruce Springsteen is actually talking about in his song "Independence Day," but the tone of it matches my level of uncertainty about holidays. It's a really sad, slow song about moving past or "saying goodbye" to a dark time and place.
I live at a summer camp (short version) and this morning the staff had a discussion about what freedom meant to them. It had the potential to be trite but turned out to be a very meaningful conversation. A lot of people talked about freedom as a way to love fully and push past fear, which I'm all about.
When I make a conscious choice to look at Independence Day as a holiday where I can evaluate my citizenship and think about how I'm going to love more and fear less out of gratitude for the freedom it provides-- well, that makes the day itself feel less cheap. Let's be honest... fireworks, plastic flags, face paint, and parades are kind of dumb. But what do I know? For some Americans, they may be physical representations of belief.