By Joe Rector

Another July 4th celebration has come and gone, but this last one was much different from those in the past. For the first time in our history, the nation’s birthday was used as a centerpiece for praising militarism. Don’t get me wrong; I proudly support our armed forces, troops, and veterans. However, other days are on the annual calendar for celebrating those things. What happened on July 4, 2019 was that a reality show showdown took place. In one corner was the president; in the other was A Capitol Fourth Celebration. So many differences between the two were apparent.

The crowds were both large and hearty. The president’s turnout was tempered by downpours of rain and thunderstorms. Spectators were covered with ponchos and umbrellas, and many headed for the exits. Later in the evening, the other crowd dealt with a few showers, but nothing like the deluge from just a couple of hours earlier. The Lincoln Memorial crowd was wowed by all sorts of war planes, along with road-crushing tanks and other armored vehicles. The president read off the prompter an elementary, historical tale of our country, complete with some gaffes that still have folks shaking their heads. Capitol crowds were entertained by the Muppets, who have for 50 years taught children to count, read, love, and accept. Additionally, well-known entertainers, as well as new talents, sang, danced, and talked about our great country and the many reasons that we have to be hopeful for the future.

What many are confused about is the reasoning for having a new type of gathering for July 4th. For years, A Capitol Fourth has thrilled crowds and swelled their souls with pride and thankfulness. The new event displayed the mighty show of force at the disposal of the country, but rolling out such equipment made the thing look more like something we watched the old Soviet Union do on a regular basis. Was such an extravaganza worth the millions of extra dollars it took to put the thing on?

All loved the fireworks, at least until the overkill ruined them. The mixture of storms, clouds, and too many explosions obliterated the view of the finale. Just like in so many instances, we seem to screw up a good idea by trying to “one-up” a similar type of thing.

Still, the 4th is a day to celebrate liberty. Americans no longer found themselves subject to the whims of a dictator. Over the years, folks in this country have been able to express their beliefs and to disagree. However, in times of distress, they put those differences aside and stood united in defense of this country. Whether you were a weapons fan or a Muppets fan, I hope you enjoyed the latest celebration of this country’s independence. I pray that we will continue to enjoy those gifts that the founding fathers gave us, and I hope that we will be able to join as one should any person or country ever try to take away those liberties which we love and celebrate every year on July 4th.