July 4th has always been a holiday that celebrates the birth of the United States of America. A free people. The institution of a democratic republic and a new nation built upon individual liberties.
Independence Day is traditionally celebrated with barbecues and fireworks, kids playing together in the summer heat, adults sharing a cold beverage and enjoying a day of relaxation.
Then 234 years later came an unseen challenge to those liberties called COVID-19, and a nation – no, an entire world – turned upside down.
People were required to self-quarantine, to shut down their businesses, pull their children out of school, cancel sporting events and public gatherings. For three months and counting America came to a virtual standstill.
The removal of these freedoms we all took for granted suddenly forced us to look at them with a new sense of value, purpose, and begs the question – What does independence mean in the midst of a worldwide pandemic? Just writing that sentence makes the hair on my arm stand up. That’s a question I never thought I’d write unless outlining a science fiction novel.
I coach my son’s baseball team, and the simple act of playing baseball seems so much more important today than it did only a few months ago. Being able to sit in a restaurant and enjoy a good meal feels surreal. Spending time with my extended family, who I was forced to alienate for months, has become a true blessing.
Celebrating Independence Day while grappling with a pandemic like COVID-19, allows me to appreciate the freedoms I enjoy today far more than I ever have in the past – because I’ve had a taste of what life would be like without them.
I’m certain I’m not alone. As Americans I hope that we remember this deprivation – even if only brief, so that we never forget how fleeting and delicate freedom can be if taken for granted.