Celebrating July 4th
July 3, 2007
by Chris Perez
Tonight, I plan to bake two pies for the Fourth of July with my summer subletter, a veterinary student from South Korea. We are throwing a barbeque and inviting some of her friends, all of whom are studying English at Penn this summer. None of them have ever celebrated the holiday before, and when we were discussing possible pie flavors last night—apple and spiced peach eventually won—my subletter summed up her conception of the day perfectly, asking: Isn’t it for watching fireworks?
Well, yes, sort of. It is difficult to explain why we celebrate the Fourth of July without either alluding to food (though clearly it is because there are still five long months until Thanksgiving) or simply chalking it up to tradition and a free day off work. But of course, this is not the case, and I was so grateful to have someone with an outsider’s perspective to remind me of that. Though I spared my friend a lecture, it was refreshing for me to consider the reasons that we celebrate—about how the Fourth of July celebrates our independence, commemorating a day in which liberty was proclaimed for an entire nation. It’s easy to gloss over this part of the holiday, but as I’ve learned during my few weeks at FIRE, every day that liberty is not actively considered and protected is one in which it risks being lost.
Hopefully, my hamburgers tomorrow won’t pale in comparison to the Korean barbeque that my friend prepared last week. But even if they do, at least I’ll know that I remembered the other reasons to celebrate as well. I really hope that you do the same, and that you all have a warm and wonderful Fourth!