Tuesday is the Fourth of July, a day we’ve come to associate with barbecues, picnics, parades and fireworks. But let us not forget it celebrates the birth of our nation, which has been experiencing some troubling division the past several years.
Formally known as Independence Day, July 4 is the day in 1776 when the Continental Congress, composed of the 13 original American colonies, formalized their freedom from British rule and declared the United States of America a new nation.
This country has been challenged in recent years as political divisions in Congress have stalled or outright killed legislative action. There used to be bipartisanship among the two leading parties. Remember, it wasn’t all that long ago that then-President Clinton and then-Sen. Bob Dole, who lost to Clinton in the 1996 presidential election, got along for the greater good. There were differences in their philosophies, sure, but the toxic politics of today go far beyond mere differences.
“One of the things that I always liked about Bob Dole is that he could fight you like no tomorrow, but he never closed the door to actually do something that could benefit a real person,” Clinton said in 2015 in a speech at the University of Kansas, according to the Wichita Eagle. Kansas is Dole’s home state.
“I kept my door open. He kept his door open,” Clinton added.
This Independence Day, let’s rededicate ourselves — and try to get our political leaders to do the same, though that might be harder — to the founding principles of this country. Remember, the word “united” is part of our nation’s name.
Now, as for July 4 fun? There is no shortage of it in the Keys. There are communitywide picnics and barbecues and fireworks in Key Largo, Marathon, Big Pine Key and Key West. And the annual parade put on by the Reporter newspaper and Key Largo Chamber of Commerce gets rolling on U.S. 1 northbound at mile marker 97 starting at 10 a.m. and lasts for about two hours. Regular northbound traffic will be routed into U.S. 1’s southbound lane and normal traffic patterns should return by 1 p.m.
For more on Florida Keys Fourth of July fun, see 1B.
Also, don’t forget about the safety. Expect large crowds in Monroe County for the holiday weekend, both on land and on the water. If you plan to drink alcohol, make sure to designate a sober driver – for your car or boat. That could very well save lives. And leave the fireworks to the experts who have been putting on the community displays for years.
And when it is all said and done, please clean up after yourself. Don’t leave your trash where you partied. There are likely trash cans all around where the festivities are. Use them and help keep our islands clean.