The Friday Five - Independence Day Edition By Pete Herr

As we celebrate Independence Day, I am reminded of a couple of things. The first is that I appreciate the day, as it is one of the 5ish days a year (barring horrific tragedy) that we remember that we are Americans first. Partisanship tends to get put aside and, I, for one, appreciate that. Makes me hopeful when we can all come together, even if it is just for a day of hot dogs and fireworks. People are nicer on those days, and there is something to be said for times when we can be nice to each other.

The Independence Day version of the Friday Five is going to be a little bit different. Here are five things I am thankful for this Fourth of July weekend.

1. Freedom

Despite all the talk between the political parties and through the media as of late, we have freedom. If you think we don't, take a few minutes to think about what life is like in Syria, or the Gaza strip, or even Egypt, where the military stepped in and vacated the results of a democratic election. Think of North Korea or even China where you are only allowed to have one child. Think of life in the poor countries in Africa, where warlords run the countries. We are free, and while we have our flaws, there is no place on Earth that I would rather live, and if that wasn't true, I would have the freedom to say it at the top of my lungs without fear of anything, other than getting my ass kicked by some Larry the Cable Guy wannabe.

2. Tradition

A day off with picnics, and carnivals, and fireworks is not a bad way to wish ourselves a happy 237th birthday. I don't think we look a day over 200. Nothing quite like a parade to remind us of our heroes in the form of veterans, firefighters and police officers. We get to celebrate our future as we watch our kids perform in marching bands or walk with their scout troop, schools, or other civic organization. And we get to see who wants our votes.....OK, let's forget about the politicians. Why ruin a feel good moment.

3. Connection

We've come a long way over the past decade. Independence Day is about connection with each other on the level of nationalism, and we can put away our differences for awhile. Through the power of freedom and tradition, we have our connection. And when the celebration is over we can go back to our virtual and social connection, and we can discuss. And while things on Facebook and Twitter can seem awful stupid at times, it is through that connection that we discuss, and I learn. And I learn the most from some of the people I disagree with the most. None of that would be possible without that connection.

4. Opportunity

Every Fourth of July I am reminded of how much opportunity I have. Michael Caputo gave me the opportunity to write for this site. I had the opportunity with my wife a few years ago to plan six major Fourth of July celebrations for our village. I have the opportunity to start a business or write a book or record a CD of music I have written or to run for office or to just take a walk through a nice park for free. My son has the opportunity to go to college and study what he wants, and to marry who he loves, not who his marriage was pre-arranged with.

5. Progress

Some days I feel like we are standing still, or even that for every one step forward we take two steps back. We have become paralyzed by our partisanship, something I am guilty of as well. Other days I realize that progress is slow. Sometimes it takes weeks or months, and sometimes it takes years or decades. We've come a long way, in just my lifetime. If you want to see progress, this article about our national bird gave me hope. It's the little things for me.

Happy Independence Day, to all of our readers from all of us at PoliticsNY.

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