Five ideas on how to make it special during uncertain times

It’s going to be a weird Fourth of July weekend this year, let’s face it. What can we do to celebrate our country’s independence during a time when many are questioning the very fabric of our society?

As a daughter of immigrants who fled communism, I was raised to love this country as a safe haven for freedom and prosperity. I am deeply, unapologetically, patriotic. But between Corona pandemic restrictions and general civil (and not so civil) unrest, patriotism has fallen pretty low on the priority list. We still have so much to celebrate, including honoring a nation which gives a platform to even those who violently criticize it. As Americans, we have the freedom to disagree with our leaders and call them to task. Thankfully, we also have the privilege to take a few days to celebrate what our forefathers fought to attain for us… liberty and self-determination. In their memory, I have determined that I will celebrate our nation’s Independence any way I can this year, despite the pandemic restrictions and the general unease we are experiencing.

Here are a few things you can do to mark the occasion!

1. Watch fireworks! Ok, so your town cancelled them…no matter, there are plenty on TV. Have you noticed that people are setting off fireworks all over the place, at all hours? My dog sure has…apparently the lack of community sponsored events featuring pyrotechnics has left a flood of firecrackers on the market for anyone to pick up and shoot off.

For those of us who yearn for our town’s fireworks displays, technology has a solution! You can watch live events or stream them online. Here are a few of the top shows. Check your local listings for more!

2. Create festive foods for your BBQ, even if it’s just for the folks in your “bubble”. As we have slowly spread out from our homes into small, safe “friend bubbles”, this would be a great time to make some old favorites and perhaps create new ones. No “corona cakes”, please!

3. Watch patriotic movies! There’s nothing like watching the scrappy 1980’s US hockey team winning against the unbeatable Soviets in “Miracle” to make you cheer, USA, USA! With other gems like “Apollo 13”, “Saving Private Ryan” and “Top Gun” on this list, you’ll be waiving the flag in no time. Also included are more recent entries like “Hidden Figures”, “Lincoln” and “Captain America: The First Avenger”.

For the full list, check out Entertainment Weekly’s picks and with links to the services streaming them.

4. Donate to a charity that supports Veterans, Military Families and Wounded Soldiers. The men and women who fight for our freedom around the world and the families that love them serve our country at a high price. A great way to pay tribute to our nation’s independence is to help those who protect us and their families. A comprehensive list can help you choose between scholarships, rehabilitation and housing and a whole host of other military focused charities.

5. Remember what makes this country great! Freedom, Equality, Prosperity and Optimism are great American values, but also rememberthe innovations America brought to the world that make life easier, raise our spirits and just make us smile:

  • Airplanes – The Wright Brothers had a heck of a time getting their contraptions off the ground, but when they did – it changed the way we traveled the world forever.
  • Air Conditioning – Invented in the 1900’s in steamy North Carolina, what would our summers be without it?
  • Light bulbs – Candles may be pretty, but lighting a home or building with them was no fun. Thanks Thomas Edison!
  • Sunglasses – Sam Foster created the first sunglasses – what would the scene from “Risky Business” be like without them?
  • The Microwave – How did we live when we had to wait 20 minutes to heat up something that now takes seconds? Thank Percy Spenser the next time you “nuke” your leftovers. And the Frozen Food we throw into the microwave oven today? Thank you Clarence Birdseye!
  • The Disposable Diaper– Marion Donovan made baby’s bottoms more comfortable and parents’ lives better with this one! Phew!
  • GPS– Brought to you by the US Air Force- how would we get home without it?
  • The Personal computer – John Blankenbaker created this wonder, which ultimately gave us the power to create, share and build new things via tapping on a keyboard.
  • The Mobile Phone– we all love them and sometimes want to throw them across the room, but thanks to Dr. Martin Cooper, the whole world can call a friend any time, from anywhere!

We’ve accomplished so much more, and think of what’s to come. American ingenuity is unique. No matter what faces us, if we stand together, we will survive and thrive! Happy Independence Day, 2020!