There were a lot of Fourth of July celebrations around the region this year. All were celebratory, some featured fireworks and several got rained on. At least one celebration drew thousands and cost millions.
We prefer our more modest festivities –a preponderance of red, white and blue, and loud cheering for servicemen and women marching to rousing patriotic music. Ours were less about the might of the military machine and more about expressing appreciation for individual service members who sacrificed their time and talents to safeguard the freedoms we celebrate on our nation’s Independence Day.
Local servicemen and women were honored by flag-waving preschoolers who marched down the sidewalks of Warrenton’s Main Street on July 3;by participants in the town’s July 4 parade; and by those who attended the First Friday celebration July 5.
In Prince William County, the Dale City Fourth of July parade is a nearly 50-year-old community tradition that serves to honor veterans and celebrate what’s best about the American spirit. The parade is one of the largest in Virginia and is known for showcasing our county’s rich diversity.
This year, marchers included two high school marching bands, a variety of service clubs and sports leagues and faith communities of every stripe, including Christians, Muslims and Sikhs. All joined in the celebration of 243 years of government for the people, by the people.
We hope our active-duty service members and veterans in Prince William County feel appreciated, honored and celebrated during the fuss that happens on the Fourth of July and on every other day of the year.
Parades are really an inadequate gesture to recognize the very real sacrifices our servicemen and women make, but it’s one way our communities offer their thanks.
And we believe it’s the hugs, backslaps and the handshakes shared among neighbors that matter more than any expensive display of military hardware.
Such events, it should be said, end up burdening the very people they purport to celebrate by keeping dozens if not hundreds of active-duty military members from taking a well-earned break to celebrate the holiday with their families.
We hear President Trump plans to repeat his expensive (and divisive) “Salute to America” celebration next year, as he considers this year’s display to have been a great success.
If he does, we hope he will work with Congress to find a way to fund the event that does not raid the coffers of our National Park Service or grant special access to high-dollar political donors.
As for us, we’ll stick to our more modest – but no less meaningful -- hometown celebrations of our nation’s independence.