(See below for video)
As a kid, I loved to watch things burn. No, I wasn’t a pyromaniac. Just a boy. (Is there a difference?) I’d douse my old model planes in lighter fluid and stage air disasters. I’d cheer as the latest latex-suited abomination attacked Tokyo (who knew that not only dinosaurs but also giant moths and turtles could breathe fire?).
But most of all, I loved fireworks! Even after a match I’d used for a replacement fuse hurled itself up my nose, causing a glorious fiesta of blood on my t-shirt, I still loved firecrackers. I also loved writing my name in the air with sparklers. And those over-priced and underperforming “fountains” the fireworks stands sold in the SoCal suburbs every June. I even loved the poopy little “snakes” with which we permanently scarred our sidewalks each year. But most of all I loved the real fireworks that exploded like snowcones of light over Disneyland on summer nights (we could see them from our split level Orange County ranch house rooftop).
It wasn’t until years later that I made the connection between those “bombs bursting in air” and the terrible sacrifice they stood for each time we in the United States celebrated the 4th of July.
I’ve never been a “my-country-love-it-or-leave-it” type. Nor do I believe native-born Americans are inherently better than anyone else. Heck, it’s the foreigners–immigrants–who regularly replenish our national DNA with their reckless gumption and relentless dreams who best embody the American spirit.
But I do think something extraordinary happened when those imprudent idealists affixed their names to the Declaration of Independence, and later the U.S. Constitution; and then, on their heels, those backwoodsers in buckskins and townies in wool laid down their lives to make it a reality.
What does this mean to Americans in the 21st century? And what does it mean for people of faith?
To answer this question for myself I wrote a short narrative, My Declaration, that has been performed at churches throughout the U.S. If you’d like to read or perform it, click here for the monologue version or here for the group reading (ensemble) version.
Then I put together a short (3 min.) VIDEO of My Declaration. You can watch it right now by clicking on the image below: