Oh, say can you see what day it is?
Days have held little meaning during the global COVID-19 pandemic where cases of infection in America rise like a purple mountain majesty above the fruited plains. One day can just roll into the next like a mighty wave crashing on a sandy shore.
Tomorrow will be like many of the previous days where the number of people infected with COVID-19 will reach historic levels. Tomorrow is also the Fourth of July, which is a day set aside to celebrate America’s independence from the occupying British forces.
With a roaring declaration on July 4, 1776 proclaiming independence, the American founding fathers set in motion many of the freedoms and truths that we hold self-evident to this very day.
That independence from British rule established principles regarding life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Of course, it is self-evident to many people that the amount of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness afforded to Americans often is dependent on the color of one’s skin, and is not in keeping with the stance that all men are created equal.
The United States is fighting battles on many fronts as we prepare to celebrate the 244th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
There is a COVID-19 pandemic that has killed over 129,000 Americans, as well as calls for social justice and reform as society seeks to get closer to reaching that all men and women are created equal mantra.
There are certain times in the course of human events that will be looked back upon as tipping points within history. The key is to make sure that the tipping point improves the lives of all concerned and is not a tipping point back to ideals of hatred, and exclusion.
It is ironic then that on the weekend that Americans celebrate declaring their independence from British rule, that the British government would declare their independence from visitors from the United States. The action was taken based on the uncontrolled collision of a wildfire and a dumpster fire that has become the American response to COVID-19.
Great Brittan joined the European Union in adding the United States to their lists of banned countries to receive travelers from. The border between the United States and fellow former British colony Canada is also closed to all but essential travel.
Let that sink in for a minute. The cases of COVID-19 are so out of control that some of our biggest allies are saying, “you know what America, we really don’t want to see you anymore. I mean I could lie and say that it is not you, it is me, but who are we kidding? It is totally you.”
It can be jarring to think that the American freedom of traveling anywhere we want, and talking extra loudly to locals has been taken away. I mean everyone knows that talking really loud removes all language barriers, right? (Just to be clear, talking loudly does not remove all language barriers and really just makes you look like a tourist.)
In years past, I would spend July 4th watching baseball and fireworks. This year I will likely do neither activity.
Despite the best efforts of Major League Baseball to announce their presence with authority by returning to action on July 4th weekend, that return has been pushed back to no earlier than the end of July. Additionally, any fireworks shows that are being done responsibly, will be done without people in attendance.
While COVID-19 has cancelled many typical July 4th traditions, one all-American tradition of gluttonous excess has managed to plow ahead like an endless all you can eat buffet. I am of course talking about the Nathan’s Famous July Fourth International Hot Dog Eating Championship held each year on Coney Island.
The ESPN televised salute to binge eating will be held this year without fans cheering on the competitors. But have no fear the hot dogs and buns dipped in water will still be broadcast into living rooms around the globe.
We don’t have baseball, or in person fireworks this year, but thanks to the patron saints of ESPN we have hot dogs.
With a weekend dedicated to declaring and exercising freedom, I know there is a temptation for people to go out and party like it is 2019. You know, that year before the COVID-19 virus reached our shores and shut things down. But, the responsible thing to do is to stay home and stay safe.
The numbers of COVID-19 cases are already out of control based on people celebrating Memorial Day weekend in a non-socially distanced fashion. Doing the same for July Fourth is likely to break the health care system and lead to even more deaths and needless suffering.
That is not alarmist talk, or anti freedom talk. That is scientific fact. Of course, with less science being taught in schools, the value of science seems to be floundering among certain population segments. For the record, the world is round not flat, and vaccines prevent diseases and are not part of some global conspiracy.
While we are stating facts, it should be noted that the founding fathers, like all men and women before and after them, were not perfect. They had their faults, and they made mistakes in judgement from time to time. But they gave us a foundation to build on as we continue this great experiment in democracy.
Now is the time to buckle down, and show that because we value the freedoms that we have, we are willing to sacrifice some comfort for the greater good.
If the Revolutionary War had not been fought and won by George Washington’s Continental Army, it could be argued that there would be worse things than being citizens of a British colony.
I enjoy British food and television programs. I love to visit Canada. So, it is possible that it would not be that bad to be British had the Revolutionary War turned out differently.
But fast forward to the middle of the 20th Century, and consider the role that the greatest generation played in defeating the Nazis and the fascists in World War II, and you can see how sacrificing for the greater good is the right thing to do.
If members of the Greatest Generation refused to do their part, the world would likely look entirely different right now.
While no one is asking anyone to go out and build tanks, wearing a mask and socially distancing is just as important of an act of sacrifice as the ones demonstrated by the very generation of people who are now dying at alarming rates from COVID-19.
Freedom and independence are not a free pass to infringe on the rights of others. Wearing a mask to protect others does not make someone less free.
As a society we need to get past this politicization of COVID-19, and all of the other issues that are dividing us as a country, and once again become that one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
That means caring equally for the people who look different from us, and yes even caring for the people who vote differently from us.
COVID-19 is not asking people who they voted for before deciding who it infects. Additionally, who someone wants to vote for should not be driving how they respond to protecting themselves from the virus.
For those needing a refresher the entirety of the Declaration of Independence can be read here compliments of the National Archives.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some Nathan’s hotdogs to eat.
Copyright 2020 R. Anderson