I was in the parking lot of IHOP today with my son Patrick. We were talking about how the Fourth of July this year kind of didn’t mean much. It had in other years, but it seems to have lost some of it’s meaning and importance.
I realized that I had been through this before. The 4th has a tendency to reflect how we, both as individuals and as a people, see ourselves as Americans. This year seems to be more of a transitional year where people aren’t quite sure what it means.
This is a good thing. One thing for sure, Americans certainly can change their opinions of themselves. I remember this same kind of transition in the mid 1970’s. Between the effects of Watergate and the end of the Vietnam war, there was a change in how we viewed what it meant to be a patriotic American. Some would say that this happened in the 1960’s, but I disagree. The stuff in the 1960’s didn’t effect the Fourth of July. It did in the 70’s.
It’s happening now again. Five or six year past 9-11, several years into a war that is having problems by any one’s measure, we are somewhat adrift for who we are. We’ll figure it out.