Around this time of year I look for signs of national unity. The traditions we celebrate and the way we get together. My favorite things to see are the gatherings of family and friends around food and good times as these make the strongest memories.
And I suppose that national unity is rather hard to define because we are so diverse in the way we think about this holiday. There are family gatherings all across this wonderful country that share common characteristics such as out-door cooking, young and old telling stories and the display of flags, fireworks and music. But everyone of those gatherings is a unique display of individual differences. Hot dogs are done in a variety of ways, perhaps with cheese, families sit together, stand apart, and play games, conversations are interrupted by arguments and good will is squandered and regained.
Part of this national unity is that we allow ourselves to be different. Part of any good school is not only allowing us to be different but really celebrating those differences. And this makes me think about how we can celebrate our differences during this holiday where we can really dig deep through our constitutional form of democracy to acknowledge our differences and cultivate how those differences make us stronger. Can we really do a national holiday that celebrates commonalities and differences?
I try to resolve some of this by remembering those that came before us. I lost my mother earlier this year and Pops three years ago so that makes me happy to remember them at this time. I honor all who fought in our wars and ended their lives in the theater of combat or who came home to be the vets we honor in parades today. I honor my elders and smile lovingly at my children and alway try to be kind to my wife.
And most importantly during this weekend I speak with all of my neighbors, and those I don’t know who pass by my gatherings, trying to tell them in a story or through a smile that we are all in this together.