What does Independence Day mean to you?

In 1852 Frederick Douglass asked, “What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?” The meaning of the holiday differed then…and surely it differs from one American to another today, depending on perspective and experience. What does Independence Day mean to you?

Independence – it the difference between revolution and revolt. -Corwin, St. Paul, MN

Independence day doesn’t mean more to me, than fireworks, family, and bbq. -Mini, Sioux Falls, SD

Independence Day for me represents a spark of the human spirit! -John Leopold, Thief River Falls, MN

I want to feel pride when listening to the declaration of independence but i get held up on the fact that so many of the signers had slaves! -anonymous text message

Independence day, like every national holiday, means time and a half. -anonymous text message

It means that we have to stop bickering for a moment and be thankful for our amazing country and quality of life. -Steph, Minneapolis, MN

  • Harriet

    I grew up on Air Force bases all over the country during the Vietnam era. At Keesler in Biloxi, Mississippi, multiple times during much of the ’60s, I often listened to the base band practicing in the evenings. The Fourth of July was a very big day on the base, especially then, and the band would play in their regalia, with a parade and picnics and flyovers and fireworks. I still get weepy listening to marching bands and drum-bugle corps. I am a patriot, and every 4th takes me back to those days, when patriotism was unambiguous and, to me, needed no explanation.

  • mike Jefferis

    We need more holidays, whatever we celebrate. The 4th of July has a faint resonance as a symbolic day commemorating our escape from the British Empire (aka the American Revolution). We should keep it, and use it to celebrate important things like the Bill of Rights. There are other days which might have greater resonance: 1 day in April to mark the beginning and end our Civil War, and Lincoln’s assassination (April 12, 9, and 13). September 1 for the beginning of WWII, or August 15 for the end of WWII, or both. Move Labor Day to May 1, the international day of labor solidarity. Holidays should be celebrated on the calendar day of their occurrence, with a day off on Friday or Monday for weekend landings. We should have days for Great American Artists, too, maybe one each month. Why not days off for crucial inventions and important inventors? Don’t most of us have greater pleasure from the invention of air conditioning than Washington’s birthday?

  • Sarah

    I wonder if the meanings of our national holidays have drifted from far from their original meanings in our collective conscience. That is not to say that for many people Independence Day can’t be a true celebration of the freedoms we are afforded by the independence won by our forefathers from Britain lo those many years ago. I think most people take their freedoms for granted in this country, myself included. The exception to that might be those who are immigrants, whether documented or undocumented, or new citizens of our country who left countries where such freedoms were lacking.

    Last night I was driving home from our local co-op grocery store and passed the liquor store whose parking lot was overflowing as people swooped in to stock up on their beverages for the weekend. Granted, drinking alcoholic beverages, provided you are the appropriate age and do not drive while intoxicated, is one of those freedoms we are afforded in our country; however, how many people actually consider what they are celebrating at all, or is it just another opportunity to “get wasted”? Has Independence Day (or Memorial Day or Labor Day) become just another 3-day weekend to celebrate ignorance and irresponsibility?

    I celebrate the fact that I can write and reflect in a public forum such as this one, or the town square, or city corner freely, without fear of imprisonment or death. Independence Day means that I have the freedom to question the ‘holiness’ of the holiday that we celebrate. I love the irony!

  • Elizabeth T

    I wish more people referred to today as Independence Day, rather than just the Fourth of July. Perhaps it might inspire more children (and adults) to embrace the idea that we, as a country, have our political independence. All this political b.s. PR hoopla about “freedom” in today’s sound-byte-bumper-sticker society ignores the true price of freedom – that paid 233 years ago over the course of a 10 year war (depending on when you start counting).

  • Chad

    As a current member of the Armed Forces and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I see Independence Day as a day of both rememberance and celebration. Remembering all those who gave the ultimate sacrafice over 200 years ago, and celebrating the victory and indepence they won.

  • dell erickson

    A great question posed in an awful awful manner!

    MPR insults just about everyone!

    Why would MPR frame the issue of the celebration of our nation’s birth in terms of slavery and racism?

    Now, to the point.

    The British empire grew beyond its cultural and resource abilities, then fell apart. As did Rome.

    As is the U.S.

    Immigration anarchy; no genuine borders; disintegrating cultural cohesiveness due to legal and illegal mass immigration; declining resources; hollow-headed political will to deal with serious problems; perhaps worse of all, a media, such as public TV and radio, that avoids its role of cynicism, public dialogue, and makes news into theater. (This forum is not really public –today public means live dialogue on TV and radio).

    I hope this marvelous nation turned into Empire isn’t merely a nice experiment in governing.

  • mike Jefferis

    Dell Erickson’s comments only sound like a rant; he raises some points worth noting:

    it seems to me also that the US Government is over-extended in its foreign military activities, (Didn’t Washington say something about avoiding foreign entanglements?) and under-performing in its role of developing and maintaining a healthy domestic economy built on real production. Our corporate citizens are also failing here.

    To the pro-immigration lobby: What part of “sovereign nation” don’t you understand? Any country has the right (and maybe obligation?) to control its own borders.

    MPR’s news department should cultivate more skepticism in its political coverage (hear that, Gary Eichten?).