Monday, July 04, 2011

4th July

Well, what a weekend!  I saw fireworks in Manchester, NH on the 3rd; and then the parade in Hanover and nearly got to the Old Home Day in Grantham today, the 4th, but was beat!  I think it is great that America celebrates it's "birth" as a new nation, a mere 235 years old.  This is such a young nation - there are not many nations that can celebrate it's birth.When I left college and got my first photography job, I worked in a building that was erected in the rein of Henry XIII - 300 years before that big piece of paper was signed by Mr. Hancock et al! 

Anyway, sitting waiting for the fireworks to begin in Manchester with all sorts of folks from all sorts of backgrounds, I got a really good sense of what this big birthday party means to people here.  There were people of many nations there waiting on their own or with their families; couples old and young sitting together, some with sparklers, some with plastic light bands; large families, young new families.  It is a big enough city and we were in a big enough park that you knew that everyone did not know each other.  But for that evening we were at least all there together for one reason - to celebrate the birthday of this young nation.

The fireworks were great.  Everyone was having a great time.  And the finale was a huge finale which drew great cheers that seemed to fill all of Manchester.  I captured on camera fireworks that looked like flowers, like palm trees, one seemed to tell the time, there was a great peace sign (I am in awe of the people who can make such things happen) and explosions and colours galore.

Hanover was celebrating the 4th July before The Fourth of July!  As one of the speakers said, there was a Hanover before there was a Dartmouth, a Hanover before there was a Republic.  In Hanover, after the parade, the national anthem was sung and I thought about some of the words - "land of the free and the home of the brave". I had always thought, when I first heard the song years ago in my youth watching the Olympics, that the brave were the Native Americans.  Later I learned my 'error', but when I hear the song I always think of the first people who lived here and live here still and the price they paid for the colonization of America. It is humbling to me. The speaker then talked about freedom and liberty and the responsibility of that. He was a man with similar sentiments as my own.  We have the freedom of speech and it is well used here, but the right to listen is just as important.  With so many people talking we have little time to pick through all that is said and find, not the opinion, but the truth behind the spin, the truth behind the rhetoric.

And as I still hear fireworks cracking and popping in and around New London at 10 pm I think about this country I live in and the freedoms that are enjoyed and the people who sacrifice themselves in small ways and great ways.  People who make sure those living here are safe and looked after - the homeless shelters and kitchens, the charity shops who donate to and assist those less well off than ourselves, the people who visit the elderly in their own homes making sure they are well, the hospitals open 24/7, the police, the soldiers risking and giving their lives and fire brigade, who I have a huge amount of admiration for, also always waiting to be there for us.  My thanks, on the close of this 4th, goes to them all and their families.