The glorious national birthday we celebrate on Wednesday invites us to drop our guard against the off-Island world and to consider the marvelous connections we have with the vast palette of Americans, quite a few of whom will have chosen to celebrate their independence here with us.
The Fourth is a grand, old-time celebration, and in keeping with the Vineyard's stubborn adherence in most things to revered past practice, whether for good or ill, we shall celebrate it in the ways we always have.
There will be barbecues and fireworks and beach picnics and relatives, and there will be the parade in Edgartown - little changed over the years, wonderfully down to earth - expressive not just of the town that is the county seat, but of the Vineyard as a whole. And visitors, as well as residents, will line the route to smile at the simplicity of it, the silliness of it, the unspectacular but authentic character of a community that has not forgotten what it means to be free and values its independence above all. Here is the moment to acknowledge the determination and hard work that has led to this day. And, of course, we must also acknowledge that there is work yet to be done to realize the promise enshrined at the nation's birth. But, we can take comfort in our relentless determination to do better, to right the wrongs we see, to make new and better opportunities for ourselves and our neighbors, to seize those opportunities, and ultimately to live more freely. So, it's a moment to kick up our heels.
The first celebration of Independence Day occurred in Philadelphia in July 1777, a year after the "Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America" was adopted by the Second Continental Congress. It became, after the end of the War of 1812, the nation's greatest secular holiday. And it remains so: noisy, happy, lively, unrestrained, a moment at early summer when Islanders drop their customary seasonal back-off attitude and instead say welcome.