Consider This By Fred Fiske: Independence Day | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Consider This By Fred Fiske: Independence Day

Play associated audio

I'm recording these remarks in advance. At the moment, I'm with my wife and some of our children and grandchildren, where we've spent the last 15 Independence Days.

We take folding chairs down to the esplanade in front of our home, and can actually see the boat from which the fireworks will be launched as soon as the sun sets. There's something special about fireworks and the Fourth of July.

I've watched them in awe for a lot of years. I've seen grand displays in Coney Island, in Chicago, in England during my World War II service. I've watched them on the monument grounds at Griffith Stadium. The truth is, the fireworks haven't changed much through the years. There are a few new wrinkles, but by and large, they're the same displays that I saw as a child and as a young man.

Funny thing about the Fourth of July fireworks: You never tire of them. I've watched them with my childhood friends, with other soldiers, with my kids and my grandkids. I've seen the same displays dozens of times.

But the "oohhs" and the "ahhs" as each shell ascends and bursts are the same. I'll let you in on a little secret: It's best with grandkids. I've watched them through changing times too: the Great Depression, as well as boom times, in wartime and in times of peace. The excitement of the fireworks, of the marching bands, the patriotic music, the pride that we feel at our country, its ideals and its freedoms, and that it's developed into the strongest, richest, most advanced country in the world are all strongest on this date.

I have a feeling we're not quite as united as in the past. We're much larger, more varied and complex. I remember hearing in the first grade that the population of the United States had reached 120 million. In the space of my lifetime, we have grown to over 300 million. We've changed from a rural to a largely urban society. Everything is bigger, faster, and more involved. Our patience in seeking solutions is shorter.

We've moved from a manufacturing economy to a high-tech information society. And other nations now challenge us for leadership in some areas. Our politics have changed too. We've always quarreled, but it seems that nowadays, the quarrels are nastier, more bitter.

In many respects, we're a better nation. Certainly, we show more respect for one another. Race relations have improved markedly. The role and status of women have changed us greatly. Our understanding and our respect for various minority groups have made us a better people. We still have enormous problems in the economy, education, and international relations.

The fireworks, the marching bands, and the birthday excitement bring us together and lessen the bickering on this date. Wouldn't it be nice if we could extend this euphoria year-round?

NPR

FX's 'The Bridge' Finds Authenticity In Spanish-Language Scenes

NPR's TV critic Eric Deggans visited the set of FX's cross-border crime drama, discovering the way the show's Spanish-language scenes help reveal new dimensions to the series' Mexican characters.
NPR

From Kale To Pale Ale, A Love of Bitter May Be In Your Genes

Researchers have found a gene that affects how strongly you experience bitter flavors. And those who aren't as sensitive eat about 200 more servings of vegetables per year.
NPR

Sen. Warren: We Need Regulators Who 'Work For The American People'

Elizabeth Warren tells NPR that newly released recordings of conversations by Federal Reserve officials show that the same kind of cozy relationships that led to the 2008 meltdown have continued.
NPR

'Ello' Aims For A Return To Ad-Free Social Networking

Ello is the viral social network of the moment. Ad free, invite only and with the option of anonymity, it's generating tons of chatter as the latest alternative to Facebook.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.