Updated: Jul 8, 2020
John Adams wrote, ‘The date will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore.’
Some dogs and other domestic pets prefer to stay indoors on the Fourth of July. Depending on where you live, the bangs and the booms start early, build to a thunderous crescendo just after dark and only die down well after midnight. Our four-legged friends, the ones who pay attention to every noise and smell and facial expression, the constant rat-tat-tat followed by a mighty boom is stressful and confusing. July 4, 2020, will be appreciated by our sensitive furry friends as the quietest 4th ever. Most celebrations have been canceled due to COVID-19.
The pyrotechnic celebration of the 4th of July is about the symbolic re-creation of the bursting of shells during the Revolutionary war. Waring ships were viciously attempting to sink each other. The fires, the guns, and the smoke eventually cleared to show one flag still fluttering, inspiring Francis Scott Key to write the words to our national anthem. “Oh, say can you see…”
If it were a typical 4th of July, we’d probably run into each other at a local fireworks show. The ones where cities or gambling resorts scratch together enough cash to buy thousands of Chinese built rockets, and shells and send them into the skies. The brilliant sparkles light the nighttime with multiple bright flashes, each followed by a deep thunderous clap. “What so proudly we hailed at the twilights last gleaming.”
All around you, the spectacle is enjoyed with collective ooohs and aaaws. Your neighbors, too, gather on the grass at the park under the billions of simulated stars. “And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air…”
But there is disquiet to our quiet that possibly even our best friend, Fido senses. A sense that our world has become unsettled, disconnected, and perhaps dysfunctional. If we walk with less spirit, Fido notices. If we talk with some despair and frustration, Fido sulks. If we lament in our locked-down small world, Fido also does. Some think that Fido can even sense our loneliness.
With Fido resting nearby, the summer sunset fades replaced by the big screen’s flicker as we watch the world aflame with fire and hate. We see people we thought we knew tear down what we believe in and love. The buildings burn, the screaming of obscenities, the defacing of our streets, and the toppling of our heroes while the number of sick and dead scrolls across the bottom of our screen. From our front row theater chair, we struggle with what to believe. What do I do when someone claims I don’t believe that their life matters? They never asked me yet they claim to know as they unfriend me. Is it possible to have a discussion?
By instinct and love, we pet our pets to assure them that all will be alright. That eventually, life will return to sanity. Soon Fido will again see the whole face and not just a slit of eyes peering over our masks. Fido prefers and is reassured by our smiles. That and a stick and a run in the park returns Fido to normal- enthusiastically living life.
I can’t speak for Fido as I don’t speak ‘Bark,’ but I believe Fido wants us to live life enthusiastically like him. With boundless energy and a love for freedom, Fido loves to play. Then with perfect loyalty, rests quietly at our feet like best of friends who want nothing but the best for each other.
In our disquiet, we ponder the strangeness of our world. Perhaps the 4th came early this year with the torching of 1,530 plus structures in Minneapolis by looters and malcontents seeking some twisted sense of justice or personal gain. Maybe the bang heard was when a young fire-cracker of a white woman was recorded berating a group of black police officers for their racism, or a when a relative reposted a video of a progressive socialist politician ranting about the hypocrisy of people who go to church. Maybe it was the publication of a series called the 1619 Project by the New York Times. It claimed that our democracy was built on racism and systemic to every institution. Or when the mayor of a small city tearfully took a knee for her white privilege to little benefit. Her home was defaced anyway. I hope her Fido was under the bed when the mob came yelling and screaming to do their justice with cans of spray paint and words of hate.
Today, some kneel in protest when the national anthem is sung rather than stand with respect for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. The Star-Spangled Banner still plays, but the statue of Francis Scott Key, its lyricist, that once stood proud in a San Francisco park stands no more. The mob is not a fan of history nor learned. Nor are they tolerant.
Needing reassurance, Fido senses his purpose and comes over for a pet. With enthusiasm born of love, we give his back a good rub and whisper words of appreciation. That’s what good friends do for each other.
There’s a good chance that we’ll miss the traditional celebration of our nation’s independence. There’s a good chance Fido won’t.
Oh, thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust”:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
I don’t currently have a dog as my best friend, but I love dogs and enjoy how they teach us what friendship and loyalty mean.