The fireworks finale of the “Stadium of Fire” and at Orem’s “Freedom Festival” amazed even skeptics of Utah County’s dedication to celebrating Independence Day. Fireworks ranging from traditional fountains and Roman Candles to planets and flowers illuminated the sky.
Does it matter the fireworks show marking Independence Day was not on the Fourth of July, but on the Third of July? Or does it matter that Provo’s Freedom Festival Parade was on July 5th? Or that Orem showed its patriotism on July 5th with concerts, fireworks and other activities?
The fact July 4 fell on a Sunday this year had many people concerned about what to do with the long weekend and city officials wondering when to have their festivities.
Many cities still had parades and activities on Sunday, but others, citing low public turnout for Sunday community events and the difficulty of getting volunteers on a Sunday, changed the celebrations to Saturday or Monday.
This move by city officials was cited to please the majority, but the faithful breathed a sigh of relief of not having to miss some of the best fireworks of the year. The bottom line: the Sabbath day was kept holy.
Many people in Utah did not have a problem with stretching out the celebrations and avoiding Sunday, as many would have been in church services during parades and fairs. Church services included patriotic hymns. Congregations stood and sang “The Star Spangled Banner” as part of the church music.
The Fourth of July was not forgotten in celebration. A nondenominational patriotic service with an Air Force Band, patriotic speakers and city officials participating in the program conducted in the Marriott Center on the Sabbath.
The applause for the speakers and music groups was not just for the program but for city officials willing to move celebrations and keep the Sabbath day holy.
However, several hundred people in Mesa, Ariz., decided they did not want their holiday celebrations changed to accommodate the LDS majority. The club sponsoring Mesa’s Independence Day celebrations remembered the poor turnout they had the last time July 4th fell on a Sunday and changed the events to the following Monday, a federal holiday.
Protesters called the move “un-American” and decried it as a violation of their rights to be patriotic.
Did we miss something?
Was it that the formula of fireworks, barbecue, concerts and parades shows patriotism in America?
Or is it that they can only be patriotic one day a year because they need the festivities to celebrate the independence of this country?
Being patriotic is more than going to a parade. According to our friend Webster, it is “love, loyal or zealous support of one’s country.”
Supporting the country. Doesn’t that mean obeying the laws of the land (like speed laws), participating in elections, and supporting those elected officials in their decisions — even the ones we don’t like?
What does it mean to be patriotic? Does that patriotism need to be tested by sending off our brothers and sisters to fight a war on foreign soil and possibly never come home?
It’s not how we celebrate the holiday, but why it is celebrated.
Americans, died so that we could be free — free to practice our own religion, free to make choices and free to celebrate our freedom the way we want to with barbecues, fireworks and parades.