How patriotic is America anymore? Some communities have dropped the fireworks, the parades and other Fourth of July celebrations due to the cost involved. There was a time when American communities would have done more than empty their piggy banks to celebrate Independence Day. Anymore, that’s not the case – furthermore, it appears that some people don’t seem to care that the celebrations have been dropped in recent years.
Chicago, for example, was at wit’s end a few years back when former Mayor Richard M. Daley cancelled the annual fireworks and the free public performance of the 1812 Overture in Grant Park. Daley had no qualms about stating the reason for cancelling “the event of the summer”, either. The reason was because it cost too much for the city. Now, a few years later, nobody seems to care at all that there is no city-sponsored huge party in the city for Independence Day. Not having the Grant Park celebration is now apparently acceptable.
While Independence Day marks the mid-point of summer and is a much-appreciated mid-week day off for those with jobs, the passion that used to accompany the holiday appears to have diminished greatly. Though the government’s constant conflicts from within may play a part in the less-than-enthusiastic attitude Americans have developed towards the Fourth of July in recent years, the decreased excitement has more to do with Americans’ attitudes themselves.
Americans should want to celebrate the day and at least give some sign of wanting the celebrations that have been cut from municipalities’ budgets.
Let’s make an obvious and disturbing comparison to other events we still celebrate throughout America – regardless of the costs involved.
While there’s nothing wrong with immigrants showing their specific nation’s pride within the borders of the United States, it does seem quite awkward that there was a huge Puerto Rican festival in Humboldt Park on Chicago’s Northwest Side last month along with the annual Puerto Rican parade but now, less than a month later, America’s own Independence Day goes practically unmentioned via Chicago’s City Hall – other than reminders that governmental offices will be closed for the day.
On May 5, 2012, there were decorations throughout the thoroughfares of Chicago’s Hispanic neighborhood streets in Little Village – the large area on Chicago’s Southwest Side – celebrating Cinco de Mayo. The joy, unity, and excitement for the event – as with past years – were awesome. Needless to say, there will be a parade and all kinds of celebrating going on again in mid-September when Mexico’s Independence Day rolls around. Again, there’s nothing wrong with this – in fact, it’s great –until one compares what American cities like Chicago aren’t doing for the United States’ Independence Day.
It’s not only the Puerto Rican and Hispanic celebrations. There’s the Bud Billiken Parade on Chicago’s South Side – in which President Barack Obama was almost going to be the grand marshal of the parade this year. This event is coming up on August 11. The Billiken Parade is an African-American annual summer event in the heart of the African-American community down Martin Luther King Dr. Regardless of who’s paying for the bulk of such celebrations, Chicago is investing dearly with the time and effort in city-provided security as they do for all public celebrations.
Last month, the Pride parades throughout the United States celebrated the acceptance of alternate lifestyles without mentioned-concern of cost. It was never questioned whether such an event celebrating gays, lesbians and trans-genders would be had. Of course, such an event wouldn’t be cancelled. That would be politically incorrect and unacceptable. Besides, politicians who would dare suggesting cancelling such events would most assuredly lose some votes.
These types of celebrations for specific segments of American society live on and on in the major cities – and they should be. But when it comes to the Fourth of July, it’s too often all about the cost – and thereby cancelled. Contrarily, they shouldn’t be cancelled.
America should obviously be celebrated and honored as much as the various segments that make America what it is. Wherever you are, with or without your community’s celebrations, have a safe and happy Fourth of July.
Note: While many cities throughout the nation have recently announced that they are cancelling fireworks due to the drought and fear of fires this year, many of them had already announced cancellations of their events – with or without fireworks – prior to the drought. The cancellations were about the costs.
About Scott Paulson
Scott Paulson writes political commentary for Examiner.com and teaches English at a community college in the Chicago area. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CBS Local.