Back in the day, there was this music group called THE FIFTH DIMENSION. At the risk of revealing my age, they sang such things as “Up, Up, and Away,” a pop version of “Aquarius” from the musical Hair, “Stoned Soul Picnic,” “One Less Bell to Answer,” and “Wedding Bell Blues.” Also, as a quick aside, Marilyn McCoo, who sang lead most of the time and is still married to the group’s de facto boss, Billy Davis, Jr., became the host of TV’s “Solid Gold” in the 1980s (on which I appeared as a background singer, but let’s move on).
Regardless of all of the songs that made them famous, the one they recorded that has always stayed with me is a musical version of the Declaration of Independence. Not the entire tome of course, but a giant portion of it. And just as Schoolhouse Rock did for me with every aspect of history, grammar and math, their song made me research the actual verbiage to understand it better.
The song starts: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.” Just for the record, that’s not the preamble of the document. It reads: “When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
Wow, right? This is a stand of “You will not rule us anymore.” Okay. And so, this July 4th is the 244th anniversary of the “conscious uncoupling” of the United States from the U.K. It is normally celebrated with fireworks — “There’s gonna be fye-ehr-wer-erks!” (thanks, Schoolhouse Rock) — barbecues and red, white and blue flags on lawns.
This Saturday, we in America celebrate the country’s Independence Day and back on June 19th, Juneteenth, the day the last slaves were informed they were free, was embraced on a grand scale around the world. That they aren’t the same day is confusing at best, right? Difficult at worst, but one thing is true:
It is something that has been hard won, died and killed for, around the world. No matter who you are, you seek to live, breathe, and simply be free. It’s what we all deserve, what every human should earn at birth. And as we get closer to the day, figure out a new way of celebrating that has us virtually hanging out with loved ones in some cases, going to the beach or the local park in our face masks and staying six feet away from the closest reveler, one thing to remember is this:
No matter where you are, who you are, freedom is precious and everyone deserves it. Celebrating July 4th may be a bit different than you’re used to, may require you to virtually hang with friends, or you may live in a place where going out with others is a-okay. Whatever happens, there may not be parades but there is still that thing that you hold dear.
Freedom. Pass it on.