4th of July: Are we the land of the free, land of the brave?

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As I See It

BY ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO

The Catholic Church somehow had its Bible readings lately coinciding with the 4th of July.

Last Sunday’s 2nd reading from the Holy Scriptures according to the Galatians, talks of being free: “When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery…”

Last Sunday was my first official act as a Lector for the St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Milpitas. Thanks to mass coordinator Tess Santos who officially scheduled me to be one of the lectors of the church’s Sunday 6:00 p.m. mass. Fr. Andy, who just came back for a 6-month sabbatical leave and one-month stay in the Philippines, officiated the Sunday mass.

Was this a coincidence? Whatever it is, it was likened to the original 13 US colonies from Great Britain setting themselves free from the British regime. In their Declaration of Independence, it was high time for them to oppose the oppressive rule of the British and set themselves free!

July 4 is Independence Day of the United States which was also referred to as the 4th of July. It is a federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, by the Continental Congress declaring that the 13 American colonies regarded themselves as a free nation — the United States of America (USA) – and no longer part of the British Empire… “And were now united, free, and independent states.”

The 13 colonies’ vision to be free should make the present United States of America (USA) free, united and independent country as the leader of the world. The framers of the Declaration of Independence and the Catholic Church hierarchy’s 2nd reading from the Galatians setting us free, should remind us of our declaration to be “the land of the free and the land of the brave.” They both complement each other in reminding us of our obligation as citizens of the United States.

Of course, the nation celebrated it with a bang! It is actually associated with fireworks, parade, meet and greet, barbecue, carnivals, fairs picnics, playing golf, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States.

On July 4, the Philippines used to celebrate it too as its Independence Day, which date was later moved to its original Independence Day declaration of June 12, approved by the Philippine government on August 4, 1964. The 4th of July became US-Philippine Friendship Day.

Milpitas celebrated the 4th of July Independence Day 2019 with its annual pool party, concert and fireworks show with a theme: “Waving the Red, White & Blue.” The Pool Party was from 1-4 pm, then celebrated it with an evening concert and fireworks show “Red White & Boom” Concert and Fireworks Show. The fireworks were opened to the public and held at Milpitas Sports Center at 1325 E. Calaveras Blvd.

Ruby General, the city’s marketing assistant, said “On average, the city of Milpitas hosts 15,000 people at the July 4th celebration.” The city’s day-long celebration began with a pool party and ended with fireworks.

Meanwhile, several Milpitas streets were modified and closed to control traffic during and after the event to accommodate the crowds. Additional police officers were fielded that assisted with the traffic that increased on surrounding streets that extended up to 11 p.m. in neighborhoods surrounding the sports center.

In San Jose, members of the Boy Scout Troop 390 carried a large flag during the Rose, White and Blue Parade which started at 10 a.m. with marching bands and Rotary-sponsored Centennial Fireworks and co-host San Jose Giants.

In school, we asked our students to do arts & crafts, made greeting cards, and engaged them in drawings in connection with the 4th of July. Other students did crossword puzzles, surfed the net, and made Power Point presentations. The students became creative and innovative and they were happy about their creations. It was an interactive activity that kept them engaged and busy while learning the facts and figures about the 4th of July.

Well, at home, my wife Delia prepared food on the table to celebrate the 4th of July with our Jacksonville, Florida granddaughter-visitors Kayla and Bibay (daughters of my son Jojo and wife Alvi). They are on their summer break from school joining our daughter Tweety and her husband Jonathan from Hawaii who are also vacationing with us here with their siblings May, Jayson and Paul. Our daughter May surprised us by picking them up in Florida and bringing them here for their summer vacation. It was a surprise for us considering that my daughter told us she will be attending a two-day conference in Napa Valley when in fact she flew to Florida to pick up the two. Later at the end of July, Jojo and Alvi will be joining us for a two-week roadside trip to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Disneyland, Hertz Castle, Six Flags Marine World, and other tourist spots in adjoining cities as part of the family’s summer escapade.

So, are we the land of the free? The land of the brave? Let’s not be dictated and overwhelmed by the latest developments going on presently in all areas around us. Let’s remain to be free, as the 4th of July framers envisioned us to be! Let’s remain to be free as the Galatians envisioned us to exercise our freedom to “stand firm… and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery!”

If we are… let’s: “Remain free! Stay firm! If you go snapping at each other and tearing each other to pieces, you had better watch or you will destroy the whole community,” the word of the Lord according to the Galatians!

(Elpidio R. Estioko was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and an award-winning journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email author at estiokoelpidio@gmail.com).

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