There were some holidays that have always resonated with me more than others. Independence Day is one of them. I have always loved fireworks. I remember looking up and wondering what it must have felt like to the young men fighting for our new country against an unstoppable force. Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, was special. We always went to the Indians game July 3rd and sat in the bleachers. We were dangerously close to the action. The fireworks were set off from the dark blue section of the bleachers and the blew up right over our heads. We fought debris falling into our eyes along with an occasional “live round.” The façade of the American ideal was clear and present.
This year marked my 2nd Independence Day without Jacob. He loved it, as I did. When he was younger, we would go to my friend’s house for a celebration unlike many others. As he got older, he would spend it with high school friends. He loved wearing USA gear, while being mindful that there are many others who’s lives don’t carry the same privilege. Jacob always made sure to let his friends know that as well. He had a special tact to convey the “message.” I don’t have that ability.
On September 18, 2019, Jacob and I attended our last ballgame together. The Tribe won 2-1 against the Tigers on a walk-off homer. We sat in Club seats that night but moved to the bridge in left field for the final inning. We weren’t going to leave early but wanted to be near the car as Jacob was getting tired. The winning homerun landed just below us as we celebrated. It was a memory. Saturday night, I went back into the ballpark for the first time since that night. I stood, teary-eyed in the same spot and soaked it in. I stood with Naomi, Ana, and her boyfriend and didn’t know if I could make it. With loved ones around me, I did!
In the, less than, three years since Jacob and I saw our shadows at the ballpark, our nation has seen unprecedented times. We’ve been through a pandemic that has cost over 1.2M people their lives in the US. We’ve had a president organize a failed coup with lies about a stolen election. Recently, women’s reproductive rights were taken. As I sat in my seats, with Naomi on my right, I struggled. The music was playing songs of the “red, white, and blue.” The one that gets me is that lyric, “I am proud to be an American, well at least I know I’m free.” I am a straight, white, male and I can feign Christianity, so I might be ok. Others aren’t so privileged.
I am sad for the future, and this holiday was a reminder of loss. 246 years since our nation’s birth and we still have people with more “freedoms” than others. We lost 2,977 people on 9/11. Because of that, the US completely revamped its security procedures in airports. In December of that year, a young man attached explosives to his shoes, and we now must remove our shoes to go through security at the airport. In that same period, there has been a massive increase in “mass shootings” in the US. The amount of people who’ve been killed and injured is astonishing. I will not post exact numbers because data is argued on the criteria for a mass shooting. White males make up the largest portion of mass shooters, while the five deadliest attacks have all included assault rifles.
We are killing the environment, quickly. The US and China make up 44% of the world’s carbon output so excuse me if I don’t give a fuck if two men want to marry one another. Bees are literally becoming extinct. If the bees are killed off the planet, we die. This isn’t supposition. So, here’s another fuck I don’t give: A black man kneeling during a song that promotes nationalism. I stood for the national anthem Saturday night. I didn’t want to. I did it because Jacob would do it and then find another way to fight injustice.
The US prison system, as we know it, was implemented to continue the southern economy after the US Civil War. Imagine being freed, with limited rights, an inability to read or vote to make changes, and being told to figure it out. This reality still haunts our black brothers and sisters. So, once again, forgive me if I look up and cannot find a fuck to give that two women want to “tie the knot.” Our country has been hijacked by a cult of people who use a middle eastern brown Jew’s life as a punchline to instill hate and control people, with the promise of living an after-life in made-up ideal while teaching people to hate. A ten-year-old girl was forced to leave the state of Ohio last week to have her fetus expel a seed left by a male family member who raped her. The pro-life movement failed her. They failed a life of a girl who is left to deal with the physical pain of her rape. She will never go to bed without thinking about being abused but there are few government programs built to help her.
My son died on December 27, 2020, from cancer. He got cancer as the direct result of the pollutants we put in the environment through foods, air, and water. Blood cancers diagnoses are alarmingly increasing yet we do NOITHING to take measures to improve our environment. We allow insurance companies, food companies, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies to murder us. Once again, forgive me if I am not insulted by a baseball team’s decision to change a racist mascot. It just doesn’t fucking matter.
This July 4th felt different.