Happy Birthday Anyway, America

It’s been a rough year Constitution-wise. Women lost body autonomy last summer, and this summer BIPOC people and LGBTQ people lost important constitutional protections. And then it was Independence Day.

I always have loved to celebrate the Fourth of July, and spent nearly 20 years in DC either down on The Mall or up in the belltower at Washington National Cathedral (I used to be a change ringer and ringers from around the world would gather there for a picnic, ringing, and to watch the fireworks. When I moved to West Virginia, the end of our driveway was the perfect place to watch the town’s show, set off just a few blocks away, and here, over a decade later in our “new” house, the neighborhood lets loose. I’m not a fan of the noise (nor are our kitties), but it’s a pretty easy way to see fireworks.

This year I didn’t feel like celebrating. At all. Maybe you know the feeling. And then I saw that the guy who owns the small business that cleans our house had texted me a sparkly firework July 4th gif, and I thought about him and his family.

He brought his family to the US when his children were still young. His daughter and her husband would clean our house and they would always talk to me about their lives in their native country and how different things are here. My best friend is an immigrant too, and she has always been quick to remind me that things are much worse in a lot of other places—which is not to say that we should accept the status quo, just that we should remember that even as we despair, that our road to true equality isn’t as steep as that of others.

And so I’ve resolved to give up despair, and when I feel it creeping in I’ll find something productive to do to fight it. In the meantime, here’s the story of “This Land Is Your Land”. Hallelujah anyway.