On the Fourth of July

Today has been a busy day in history, and not just for the reason you assume. Nathaniel Hawthorne was born on this day in 1804. Walt Whitman first published Leaves of Grass today in 1855, challenging and changing the face of poetry forever – the “poet of democracy.”

Lou Gehrig retired 80 years ago today, one of the early heroes of America’s pastime. His 278 words of goodbye survive in our collective memory as defining the spirit of American work ethic, although we are more likely to imagine the image of Gary Cooper than Gehrig in our minds.

In 1845 Henry David Thoreau moved into his shack on Walden Pond, where his personal introspection found a distinctly American voice that still instills reflection today.

In that spirit of reflection, and not in any way to detract from our rightfull celebrations of today, here is a poem to consider.

Fourth of July

Dripping flags 

sag limply 

in the downpour

Fireworks sputter 

and drown

in the sea

of indifference

that dampens

this day when

 we celebrate

the invention of

Coca-Cola hot dogs

and auto racing

the day the sky 

chose to rain 

on our parade

Perhaps only 

this poem remembers 

the meaning

and the precious

sacrifice spent 

for the freedom

for too many

to forget

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