Today is a big day in my town. Not only is it a national holiday—Independence Day—but Boise is also celebrating its sesquicentennial. That, for those of you scratching your heads, is 150th birthday, and yes, I did have to cut and paste that great big word! Thankfully, you can’t hear me pronounce it.
The first ten-block plat for our little town was drawn up in 1863. Not many, if any, of the original buildings remain. In the west, wood was the primary construction material. Wood, in highly fire prone regions like this, has obvious disadvantages. Nevertheless Boisians have embraced the sesquicentennial, even going so far as trying to learn how wrap their lips around that word. Among the traditional 4th of July events the 150 theme reigns supreme, including the chalk art contest in the town’s premier park. I took a sneak peek at the emerging art early this morning before the blazing heat could cook the meat off my bones and before the crushing crowds make photography unpleasant, if not impossible. I have mixed feelings about 4th of July celebrations. While I’m proud and very lucky to have been born in America, the rampant unexamined nationalism that surfaces during this holiday makes me uneasy. Yes, we are still a beacon of hope for those around the world who live under oppression and poverty. But make no mistake about it, we are tarnished by our own poverty and oppression.
- We have some of the best medical technologies in the world and yet one-third of our population is unable to access that medical care.
- In 2011, the family poverty rate was almost 12% or 9.5 million families.
- Minority families still struggle for the inalienable rights that our Constitution guarantees them.
- America’s image has slipped dramatically around the world because we have been recognized as greedy bullies, meddling in other countries’ affairs and consuming astonishing per-person percentages of world-wide natural resources.
Yet I know how blessed I am to have born in America and into a social strata that has allowed me the freedom to move up, down, or laterally in direct proportion to my luck, talent, and hard work.
Although it was still early in the morning as I left the park, the crowds were streaming in to stake out turf for their all day vigil for the fireworks to come. Coolers, bikes, barbeques, games, flags, and sunscreen rule the day.