You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.
— the late Erma Bombeck
Could there be a more Florida holiday than today?
No frenzied buying of gifts, no pressure to serve the perfect turkey. On this day that marks our independence as a nation, we are in its parks and back yards, at its lakes and beaches. Today is the smell of hot dogs over hot coals, the roll of waves, the relentless sun.
No bills are dumped in your mailbox today, no garbage hauled from your curb, no bosses if you are lucky.
Today allows for a measure of hokeyness we wouldn't otherwise tolerate. I was in a July 4 parade last year with friends in a golf cart festooned in red, white and blue. It felt like we were a half-century in the past.
Kids lined curbs without their cellphones out, reaching for Jolly Ranchers tossed from floats that rose high against a blue sky. Older people sat in webbed metal lawn chairs I didn't know they made anymore. Dogs sported bandanas. And people wore patriotic colors without irony.
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Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hardworking, honest Americans. It's the other lousy 2 percent that get all the publicity. But then, we elected them.
— Lily Tomlin
On this holiday, we can sit on the beach and think about politics if we want to. We can mull over re-electing a governor or bringing back a former one. We can consider those local candidates sweating in convertibles on the parade route. The right to choose, after all, is what got us here.
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My parents didn't want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that's the law.
— Jerry Seinfeld
Today is about us natives, but also the snowbirds and transplants that make up this place. Some of them still find us too hot, too backward, too Florida. Others know a great blue heron from a sandhill crane and have figured out where to find the freshest fish, coldest drinks and finest sunsets. We are a melting pot, and not just for our sweltering temperatures.
If today you are lucky enough to be by water, maybe you will see a manatee lifting its nose for a snootful of air before meandering on its way. This week, we learned that federal officials agreed to consider taking them down a rung — from "endangered" to simply "threatened" — despite a record 829 of them killed last year, more than twice the year before. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be around after the long weekend should we want to weigh in on this. Today's about that, too.
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Have them drink plenty of water or other cool, nonalcoholic beverages.
— from a list from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on helping someone suffering from heat exhaustion.
Ours is not a delicate state. Forecasters warn of this weekend's potential for lightning, rip currents and wicked temperatures. It is tradition to say it every summer: Has it ever been this hot? But it's Florida and the Fourth, and who we are.