Texas already has a Celebrate Freedom Week, a week in September when public schools are asked to teach the importance of our nation’s founding documents like the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence. The reasoning behind the week’s timing is that the Constitution was signed on Sept. 17, 1787. Of course, the Declaration was adopted on July 4, 1776.
John Adams believed future generations of Americans would celebrate July 2 as the big day, because that’s when the document won preliminary approval. It took more two days to finalize its exact language though, so July the Fourth turned out to be the day we celebrate. But we’re getting hung up on details here.
Texas and a few other states have established a Celebrate Freedom Week every September so school students will be sure to study our nation’s historic founding documents. That’s a good thing for schools to teach. Meanwhile, if we had an American Patriotism Month, we might be observing it right now.
It would last longer than a month, but remember, we’re not getting hung up on details.
I would suggest American Patriotism Month can begin every Memorial Day the last Saturday of May, and continue until Independence Day, July 4. Along the way, Americans would mark D-Day on June 6, Flag Day on June 14, and Juneteenth on June 19. Maybe the “month” could also be extended to include Armed Forces Day, the third Saturday of May.
Appropriately, this patriotism month — that’s still a figment of my imagination — would come to its conclusion next week on July 4. While the purposes of these observances stretching from late May to early July differ dramatically, each remains important to our history and our freedom.
Memorial Day and D-Day are sober remembrances, while Flag Day, Juneteenth, and Independence Day are times for celebration.
That’s the problem we face with these days. We too often focus on the “holiday” part and forget the “observance” part. Have you ever heard people say “happy” Memorial Day and felt uncomfortable about it?
Memorial Day is set aside to remember the men and women who died in military service, defending our way of life. While it’s appropriate to salute their sacrifice, there’s not much to be “happy” about. Thankful, yes. Appreciative, yes. Blessed, yes. But it’s not a happy day, especially for their families and friends who relive that ultimate sacrifice and others reflect on it.
D-Day is much the same.
However, several other patriotic observances — Flag Day, Juneteenth, and the Fourth of July — are indeed happy, especially Juneteenth and Independence Day. I consider Flag Day as a time to not only appreciate what it symbolizes, but also to refresh our memories on the ways people disrespect it — unintentionally. For example, its use as apparel or its display at night without proper illumination is a violation of the Flag Code.
In recent weeks, area residents have appropriately honored veterans who died in our service, and then celebrated the Emancipation Proclamation. Next week, it’s the granddaddy of them all.
This year, the calendar places the Fourth of July on Wednesday, so the option of a long weekend next week is not available for many workers. Hopefully, that will still leave everyone enough free time to celebrate America.
To paraphrase John Adams, it’s a time for pomp, parades, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other — from this time forward, forever more.
Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Fridays. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.