Fourth of July, like freedom itself, requires some work

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This year the Fourth of July has just plain snuck up on me from behind.

And there's something very wrong about that.

It seems fitting that in the wake of the 9-11 terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania that the fireworks should explode with more color than ever, the flags should snap with more precision in the breeze and our hearts should be better prepared to remember those who died for our freedom in all the 226 years since we declared our independence from England.

But here we are in 2002 and my heart's not in it. I'd rather stay home and sulk than celebrate my country's freedom. And I bet I'm not alone.

Here are a few of the reason's my patriotism is in a funk:

-- The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is attacking us from within with its decision that the words "under God" are unconstitutional -- an infringement of our religious freedoms.

Every patriotic cell of me recoils. Because we in America are allowed by our government to worship any God it seems ridiculous the mere mention of a deity would cause such a stir from someone who doesn't believe one exists.

-- Our religious freedom is being rocked by the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. It's not the first time the church has been shaken. Just ask Martin Luther, who in the 16th century posted a notice called his 95 theses on the church door.

The church survived then as it will now, but not without its scars and its casualties. However this time, it is the children who have paid the highest price. They have lost their innocence and I'm sure their ability to trust. Next time you wonder at the state of youth in America remember the foundations rocked by the Catholic priests and bishops go deep.

-- We're in the midst of one of the worst fire seasons ever and what makes it worse than usual is that two of the people we trusted to protect us from such disasters are accused of starting them.

In the nearby case of the Cannon fire in Walker, Calif., it may or may not have been the U.S. Marine Corps. In Colorado and in Arizona, two fire service employees are to blame. Terry Barton acted out of hurt, anger or rage when she burned the note from her ex-husband. Leonard Gregg acted out of greed or need when he lit his fire in Arizona.

In all three cases, it was a member of group who have stood by for us at the front lines so we don't have to. It seems wrong that we now too must wonder just what goes on.

And that seems wrong.

We may not know for sure for another month or more the cause of the Cannon fire, which cost three men their lives.

And that seems wrong.

My brother is away fighting the Rodeo fire near Show Low, Ariz., and I won't see his smiling face in the Fourth of July parade.

And that seems wrong.

-- July 11 will be the 10th month since the attacks. The war on terror now seems millions of miles away compared to the horror we felt in the days just after the attacks.

And that seems wrong.

For the thousands of servicemen and women in Afghanistan the war is very real. For the 40 members of an Afghan family killed Monday during a wedding the attacks are tragic. For most of America, we're too busy for the war on terror.

Too many people avoid the television news, refuse to read the newspapers and to them the lost lives are a passing thought.

For many Americans though, the war on terror hits very close to home. Their sons and daughters are fighting for the red, white and blue. Many of them won't make it home.

Those who do will return to a thankful though forgetful homeland, where they will live with memories most of us would consider nightmares.

So it's for them that I will put out my flag, lace up red tennis shoes I bought last year just for the Fourth of July and head up the hill to Virginia City, where I'll do my patriotic duty helping my mom with the annual parade.

She's threatened to make the 2002 event her last.

Maybe that's the real reason I'm in a funk this July. This is not the first time she's made the threat, but who can blame her? She's been at the head of the parade for at least three decades. I can remember dressing as a clown and riding a Big Wheel before I had even reached the ripe old age of 10.

I think maybe it's time to pass the torch, so to speak, but that will be up to her.

She says either way she'll still lead the way on Veterans , though.

She promises to stop Thursday's parade so we can all say the "Pledge of Allegiance."

God bless her.

Kelli Du Fresne, a Virginia City native, is features editor of the Nevada Appeal.


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