The Fourth of July: a major holiday in the United States. A time for summer picnics, for outings to the seashore, for hot dogs, for baseball, for political speeches, for parades, for Fourth of July red white and blue showing up on things from cupcakes to fireworks.
It is also a time for reflection. The first fourth of July, in 1776, was, among other things, about people making hard decisions. It is a good time to look at other times and places when people have made hard decisions, and what consequences those decisions had.
Sheila reflected on visiting places in the United States and elsewhere while knowing about the darker sides of what had happened in those places. I’ve considered how the past remains present in Northern Ireland through several stories. Skye found his visit to the Warsaw Uprising Museum in Poland both illuminating and unsettling.
Sheila felt those things, too, when she spent time at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.
I have told you about a book which relates the stories and challenges faced by ranchers, farmers, and fishermen in the American heartland, and taken you to visit the Viet Nam Memorial in Washington DC.
Mike spent time with the story of the 16th Street Baptist Church where four girls were killed in Birmingham in the civil rights years, and later went on a tour which illuminated the black white and blues sides of Memphis. I told you about two statues on a college campus in the deep south of the US, one which evokes history and a homecoming queen, another with a related but different sort of legacy. There was also the story of Freedom Summer, told through books, music, and conversation.
There are other stories from history upon which to reflect. Sheila has ideas on visiting the homes of six American authors. Mike shares his thoughts on visiting a presidential library in Michigan. There is also thoughtful music for the fourth of July, songwriters with stories which go beyond what’s usually heard at this season. Sheila told about a place honoring the lives and customs of a First Nations tribe in Florida, and spent a summer evening on a walk in Philadelphia, which included a visit to the Liberty Bell.
May our stories help you reflect on history, decisions, places, and how these interact at the fourth of July and beyond. Explore what we have already written, through stories mentioned above and others, and stay with us as our journeys continue to unfold.
Do you have a favorite place of history to visit, on the fourth of July or at another time? Let us know about it in the comments if you’d like.
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