It is far too ironic that on the day we celebrate independence from our former English liege,
A large part of Newport will be like a city under martial siege,
With police on every corner though not in riot gear and barricades on every street.
That cherished right of auto movement has been curtailed, it has met defeat.
In recent years our neighbor city further up the coast,
Thousands of celebrants turning all manner of couches and sofas into toast.
Symbols of farmers, blacksmiths or tanners behind a hedge, fence or tree,
Armed with flintlock by force to try to set us free.
The image of fife and drum and three men with bandaged head and wounded leg,
Replaced today by those gathered round the coolers, gathered round the keg,
The badge of honor goes to whomever can most and forever consume,
Or who gathers the most thongs throughout his rooms.
In 1777 it was a day to reflect, of fireworks and a thirteen cannon salute,
Marking the first Independence Day the fragile seed of democracy began slowly to take root.
In most of the country this is a day of parades, Souza, reflections, fireworks and family barbecues.
Sad, in this Golden Land of beach and sun, it is a day of too much wine, too much brew.
Any excesses you cannot blame on Washington who on this day in 1778,
Handed out rations of double rum to his soldiers who helped forge this ship of state.
A thin blue line and thin green line are poised on our border,
Against overwhelming odds to try to prevent drunken chaos and disorder,
For those summer patriots whose guzzling will not relent,
Who feel such independence is a God-given consent,
No matter how close you look at their blue and green threads,
No way will you find the slightest speck of Redcoat red.
If the summer patriots despised by Paine choose to party and not reflect,
At least accord the thin blue and green lines some honor and respect.
In the party daze remember freedom is not cast in stone nor etched in concrete,
It is more fragile than a snowflake or butterfly and in the hall of nations may quickly lose its seat.
Look only to Troy who felt with their walls alone were beyond any Greek’s reach,
Remember this short lesson history will teach,
After the celebrations of rivers of wine ran their sleepy course,
Troy was destroyed by conscious Greeks coming from their Trojan Horse.
For our rights soldiers are dying daily on Iraqi sands or in Afghan not Bunker Hills,
Party to the max, is that how one respects that sacrifice and final bill?
If for only a moment, image an army unpaid, in rags, many without shoes,
But no matter the hardship forged in the valley, their faith remained true,
They would not let go when they grabbed the lion’s tail,
No matter what, against trained English steel, cannon, and muskets they would not fail.
Each pledged one’s property and each pledged one’s life.
In countless battles many our forefathers paid the ultimate sacrifice.
So done, wave the flag with meaning and fireworks applaud with hearty cheer,
But maybe this year as you pause and reflect, use a little less wine, a little less beer.
© July 4, 2007
Michael P. Ridley
Have a safe, sane and more importantly reflective 4th of July