A few months ago I had the opportunity to participate as an extra in the filming of the pilot for Fox’s Sleepy Hollow in Lincolnton, North Carolina. Since I had a beard I did not play the part of a red or blue coat but instead was a volunteer; essentially a land owner fighting alongside the regimented colonist. The location was a historic site with a dam, the water of which had been used to power a factory near the time of the revolutionary war. Only the cemented floor and parts of the walls remained. This was my first time being an extra and for 14 hours I had a very small glimpse of what it may have been like to fight in the Revolutionary War. Of course this war had a headless Hessian on the side of the British but nevertheless, when you see red coats climbing over the wall, horses running about, and explosive charges detonating all around, there is a since of how savage war can be and how brave the men were who fought for our freedom.
I believe we should have the goal, on occasions such as the 4th of July, of bringing that feeling of awe and pride to our celebrations. For most, the 4th is about fireworks, a day off, and grilling. This is the template we have been sold. However, we have to be purposeful to keep the remembrance of the birth of our nation on this special day. For when the brave men pledged their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” they did so with a certain nation in mind. We call the 4th the birthday of our nation, but in truth it was forged upon an anvil of principles, manly principles that we ought to cherish and respect.
Here are a few ways you can keep to the meaning of Independence Day while still enjoying the festive activities.
Read a quote or speech from a Founding Father
While it may seem awkward at first, it shows a great deal of respect to offer up a brief quote or section of a speech. This is certainly less awkward if you are hosting, but even if you attend a party, play the man and gather people around to take a moment to be thankful for our nation. If anyone rolls their eyes call them a Redcoat or Lobsterback!
Ask others to read a quote or tell a story from our history
If you have friends that are not lame, ask them to bring a quote or talk about something that makes them proud to be an American.
An alternative to this is to print out quotes, parts of speeches, eulogies, etc., cut them out and place in a bowl or hat and have people draw them out and read it. When everyone is done ask people which they liked the most and why.
Raise Old Glory
You know you have been putting it off for some time. At this point there are a ton of flags in stores. I recommend buying one kit with the flag and another flag to make sure you can replace it when it wears out. Also, don’t go cheap here. A thin flag is just terrible and will wear out. This is a great project for the kids to help with as well. Ask them why our flag is so important, who is credited with its design, and so forth. Impress them with your knowledge of how Old Glory got her name.
Lead the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner
Be sure to print out a few copies. Unfortunately it isn’t a popular these days at it ought to be and most people don’t know all of the verses. If you can’t hold a tune, simply ask someone else if they would be willing to kick it off. Then try to listen to the words and hold back the tears.
Also, head over to Art of Manliness and check out their 10 Fourth of July traditions. The root beer one sounds great.
Have fun and be safe setting off those “crackers” this 4th of July.
God Bless America
– Michael Yarbrough