Mayor's Stage: Patriotism doesn't have to be limited to parades

RICHARD L. "IKE" STAGE
Richard L. "Ike" Stage

In a July 1776 letter to his wife, Abigail, John Adams predicted annual "pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other" in celebration of America's Declaration of Independence from the British Empire.

Just as Adams had expected, we have annually celebrated the first of America's Charters of Freedom with festive events, moving patriotic concerts and breathtaking pyrotechnic displays.

Grove City residents traditionally fill the holiday with family cookouts and action-packed community gatherings. Our Independence Day celebration and evening fireworks display is typically one of the most anticipated events of the summer.

Yet 2020 has been anything but typical.

Since many communities, including ours, have canceled fireworks displays and large celebrations, this year families may celebrate a little differently. Perhaps there might be a simple backyard cookout with family, porch or driveway visits with neighbors, and swirling sparklers in the night sky.

Parks and playgrounds remain open, providing a great opportunity to visit new areas with your family. Explore Grove City through the eyes of a tourist and take your Independence Day festivities to one of Grove City's parks or inclusive playgrounds; maybe enjoy an old-fashioned picnic on the lawn.

One thing I'm certain will not be different, however, is the patriotic nature of our community on Independence Day. American flags will wave from porch fronts and social media posts will feature dedications to loved ones serving our country in the military.

We come together as a community and a nation to celebrate our freedoms and the adoption of a document that not only announced to the world the reasons for separation from Britain, it also established a profound commitment to human equality.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

This holiday and always, I join other leaders in our community in a collective will to continually improve our welcoming, safe and free society as we work toward surpassing the equality our forefathers envisioned. The themes of equal access to healthcare and economic balance are as relevant as ever; and there's no doubting the unpleasant realities of living as a minority in some parts of our country. Yet change is possible and it's within our grasp. I know we can get there together.

As you gather with your family and friends this holiday, take a moment to reflect on how wonderful it is to be an American and have the freedom to invoke transformation.

Although our skies will be devoid of fireworks and streets empty of parades, let your celebration of our country's independence be fun and memorable.

Richard L. "Ike" Stage is the mayor of Grove City.