8 All-American Traditions on the 4th of July

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.  ~Abraham Lincoln

Well hey, P&Q Rangers! Happy Independence Day to all my American readers! It’s been a busy couple of weeks for me between my book, my air conditioning failing in triple-digit heat, and interviewing for another promotion at work (keep your collective fingers crossed!) But I realized I’ve been lax in posting as of late and wanted to remedy that. I’m on summer vacation, not exile.

Of course I’m off from work today…that is one perk of not working retail anymore…but I’m not just sitting back watching a 24-hour marathon of Storage Wars. The 4th of July is always a special day for me because of my personal traditions. Everybody’s got their own and these are my ways of celebrating America.

#1: Watching (at least part of) The Championships at Wimbledon

It’s my mom who first turned me on to Grand Slam tennis. And every year I still watch, whether or not an American is competing for the championship. This is sports at its best, and tradition at its finest. It doesn’t hurt that Americans through the years, from Pete Sampras to the Williams sisters, have dominated the grass courts.

#2. Taking a gift basket to a local veterans’ hospital

It’s so easy to do, and so rewarding. To me it’s the very least I can do for those who’ve defended freedom. If you can’t make it to a hospital, consider donating to a worthy veterans’ organization like Wounded Warrior Project.

#3. Minor-league baseball games

I qualify this one by saying that baseball itself is all-American, but minor-league games represent it best. The small-town parks, the local promotions, the young guys trying to make it to the bigs. Oh, and you can’t beat those prices. Go early to get a few autographs from future stars (I once got All-Star Prince Fielder’s scrawl at my local ballpark!)

#4. Reading the Declaration of Independence aloud

It’s important to remember our roots as a country. We Americans are not perfect, but the principles of liberty and equal opportunity for all are timeless. Reading it every year gives me a tangible connection to the Founders and the great challenges they faced, not to mention being in Philadelphia in the summer with no air conditioning.

#5. Helping clean up a local park

I may not do this on the 4th, but it’s something I do every summer. Unfortunately thousands of tons of trash wind up at the lake every year. I feel like it’s a duty, and I always feel better afterward. Check out the Keeping America Beautiful site to find a cleanup in your area.

#6. Reading a great American biography

I love to read, so this one is a given. There are so many great Americans in our history, and I’ve had the chance to read about people from David Farragut to Emma Goldman to Ralph Ellison on the biography shelf.(My current read is the autobiography of nuclear scientist Edward Teller.)

#7. Breaking out the telescope for some amateur astronomy

I’ve always loved seeing the moon, Jupiter, or meteor showers up close and personal through a telescope. If you live in an area with too much light pollution, check to see if there’s a college observatory in your area with open house nights.

#8. The movie Independence Day

This isn’t my favorite movie of all time, but it’s the best B-movie ever made. Nothing says Americana like a bunch of scrappy Everymen banding together to save the world from aliens. I have to watch each and every year and wonder why the hapless ETs didn’t have Norton AntiVirus.

For those of you who are wondering why I didn’t include the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, I can only eat one or two processed meat franks without feeling sick myself, so watching a guy down 50 is not my cup of tea.

For everyone: Please have a safe and happy Independence Day, and, for those in drought-stricken areas like me, please consider alternatives to fireworks at home!

What are some of your 4th of July/patriotic traditions?

~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on July 4, 2012.

13 Responses to “8 All-American Traditions on the 4th of July”

  1. An excellent list of ways to celebrate.
    I would say most of them should be done year round too.

    Have a great holiday, Heather. Happy Independence Day!

  2. I haven’t seen Independence Day in forever, and with as hot as it was, I should have stayed in and watched it.

  3. Good suggestions. I don’t have any traditions for this day other than the usual, BBQ and fireworks. Do you really read the Declaration of Independence aloud? That’s awesome.

  4. I watch YANKEE DOODLE DANDY. I also read the Declaration of Independence this year and I think last year, so that may be one of my new traditions. I also watched some old clips from 1986’s Liberty Weekend on you tube. And I sang the Star Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful.

  5. The Declaration of Independence is improved if you pronounce those funny S’s they wrote as if they’re the F’s that they look like.

    Also, home made baked beans at the BBQ – you talk about yer fireworks.

  6. I have had a crazy week and thought I may have missed one of your posts!
    I absolutely LOVE your list! With both kids on their own, I was very happy to spend a nice cookout with them! My daughter worked all day and came afterward. My son hung out for the day. Simple pleasures. We would have gone to the fireworks if there had been any. Maybe next year! We had gotten more rain by the 5th of July than all of June! A bass-akward year!

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