A fireworks extravaganza at Mount Rushmore. Continued Black Lives Matter protests in U.S. cities.
A “Salute to America” featuring music and a presidential speech from the White House. Canceled small town parades across the country – and a plea from Washington, D.C.’s mayor for city residents to stay safe by just staying home.
Welcome to the fractured landscape of 2020’s July Fourth holiday weekend. A holiday rooted in the celebration of American freedom and unity is today producing clashing images of differences over the dangers of the coronavirus, the nation’s continuing struggle for racial equality, and the political fissures those battles reveal.
But is that kind of dissonance at the heart of the Fourth’s true purpose? It is, after all, arguably the most political of U.S. holidays. It commemorates a political act – the signing of the Declaration of Independence. At its beginning in 1776, New York City residents tore down an equestrian statue of King George III and hacked it to pieces.
At various points in history, the Fourth has been a day for divisive political expression. It has not always been a relaxed entrance to high summer, a time of hot dogs, bottle rockets, and all things red, white, and blue.
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