Kay Stellpflug: Writing about the 4th of July was not easy | Columns


Many of us who write are never short of topics. We read, listen and look around us, and it’s all there.

The universe is full of events and ideas just waiting for our comments. The assortment of current events, hot topics, trends, people, places, and things constantly presents new twists as the story unfolds.

That’s why it seemed strange to me that when I went to write about the 4th of July holiday, I didn’t know what to say. The significance of what this day holds is immense. Our wonderful country, young as it is, has done so well.

Learning from the mistakes of other nations, the framers of our Bill of Rights and our Constitution worked long and hard to craft a document they believed would clearly provide freedoms and establish rules for due process.

Yet all I could think of was the independent nation that was brave enough to declare itself free from tyranny, but fell back into an unjust, inequitable, and divided nation.

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I was ready to write about fireworks and family reunions, and all I could think about was fireworks at family reunions, arguments, and relationship-breaking free speech and strain even the best friendships.

Overloading happens from time to time and sours even the best of us. Fresh, happy thoughts darken like the picnic table full of pollen just when you’re ready to serve the hot dogs. What begins as a tribute to a great nation ends with a reflection on all that has happened in recent times. This seriously negates baked bean and mattress sales.

I am disappointed by the unprecedented need to verify everything I read and hear. It worries me that our information is so skewed. Does everyone know that the Declaration of Independence wasn’t even signed on July 4th? It was voted on July 2, and a lot of signatures weren’t even there until August 1776. On that same note, I might as well tell you that Jesus wasn’t really born on December 25 either, but I don’t don’t think the exact dates are important here.

When I think of George Washington giving his soldiers a double ration of rum to celebrate the day in 1778, I wonder what else he would have given them if he had had the means. Given our wealthy society today, would he easily provide health care and education, adequate housing and support to his soldiers in need?

How can I write about a free and independent country and a celebration of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness when deregulations on basic needs like air and water have been put in place and that civil and human rights issues seem to have taken a low priority in recent years?

Over the past few years I have written how proud I am to live in this time in this country. There really is so much in this beautiful country that holds hope and progress. I believe democracy can work. But each individual must contribute to a unified and peaceful nation.

Who knew there would be so much debate, controversy, and misinterpretation of these so-called self-evident truths? Inalienable rights had to be indisputable, indisputable, obvious. Life, Liberty, and Happiness are big words with many interpretations, and like the Bible, many have taken the liberty with their own definition of these ideas set forth in the Constitution.

Some people are only happy when they create chaos. Others are only happy if they can rip off their fellow human beings and become rich and famous. Still others are only happy if they have power over others, and therefore take away their freedom. That doesn’t seem very fair to me, but I’m not a historian, a Supreme Court justice, or a government official. I’m just one of those free citizens having a barbecue on the 4th of July.

Stellpflug, from Beaver Dam, is a communications educator and trainer: [email protected]

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