Jul. 2—This weekend, we are celebrating the birth of this great nation 245 years ago.
The holiday is on July 4 because that is the day the United States of America officially declared its independence from England.
And after a year off from the grand holiday celebrations because of COVID, Americans are eager to get out and get together with family, friends and strangers.
There are plenty of opportunities to do so. Many communities are again marking the Fourth of July with parades, fireworks and gatherings of the community.
Some people are planning family barbecues, and perhaps, small fireworks displays of their own.
However you decide to celebrate, we want you to be safe.
Although there has been a dramatic decline in COVID cases, the pandemic is not yet over. With variants that are more transmissible and more deadly becoming more prevalent, we encourage those who aren't yet fully vaccinated to wear masks if they are in crowds or around unfamiliar people. Of course, everyone should still be careful with proper hygiene to help curb the spread.
Take proper precautions during barbecues.
Buffet-style serving is still discouraged because of COVID, and practicing proper food safety procedures is always important. Make sure hot foods stay hot, and cold foods stay cold. No one wants to get sick, or be responsible for others getting sick, because food wasn't prepared or kept properly.
We're sure the cops will be out in abundance at sobriety stops this weekend. If you are serving alcohol at your backyard barbecue, make sure that there are designated drivers, or you have somewhere for those who have been drinking to stay until they sober up, for their safety and for the safety of those on the roads.
While we encourage folks to leave the big fireworks displays to the professionals, we know there will be plenty of people setting off their own. Our counties allow smaller fireworks to be sold and set off. If you do decide to set up your own display, make sure you do it safely.
Sparklers are common, but can be dangerous. Young children should not use them. For other fireworks, make sure they are set up properly and securely away from homes, vehicles and people, before lighting the fuse.
Our first responders want to celebrate this weekend, too. Having to be called to an injury or fire because of improper use of fireworks will not allow them to do so.
Or course we love the fireworks, the barbecues, the day off from work, the patriotic speeches and the pride in our nation associated with Independence Day, but we also should remember why we are celebrating this weekend.
Freedom and the love of our country. The problem for some is that the way some choose to express that love infuriates some of the rest of us.
Some people find the best way is to wrap themselves in the flag. Others point out our nation's flaws is hopes they can be fixed
Both of those expressions — and everything in between — are valid.
We hope people take time this weekend to recognize that the way people choose to express their love of this great nation may not be the same, but that one thing we have in common is that love and the desire to make it the best we can for all Americans.
Perhaps, if we can internalize that, we can start healing the division prevalent in America today.