TODAY'S PAPER
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OpinionEditorial

The Fourth of July, a day to stoke our love of freedom

What we like best about this communally celebrated holiday is its democracy.

Spectators enjoy the TD Bank presents Celebrate America

Spectators enjoy the TD Bank presents Celebrate America fireworks at Eisenhower Park on Saturday in East Meadow. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

On July Fourth, the nation celebrates the American rebellion against British colonialism, as the Declaration of Independence announced to the world the beginning of a new nation.

It’s important to reflect on how that document’s fundamental ideals have shaped our freedoms and our way of life, even as we celebrate the beginning of summer. Once again, we will print the text of that glorious declaration on our page on Thursday.

School’s out, and our lives move outdoors. Long Island is renowned for its opportunities for seaside recreation, luring boaters and beachgoers. Our state and county parks, with their nature and horse trails and sports fields, are gems. A recent survey by nextLI, a Newsday research initiative, found that by an overwhelming majority, the natural beauty of the region is one of the prime reasons for living here. So enjoy.

One of the Island’s most iconic spots, Jones Beach State Park, is celebrating its 90th anniversary with a new attraction, an outdoor adventure area. Now you can see the ocean waves while riding a 700-foot zip line. On Thursday night, the Fourth will be celebrated with spectacular fireworks at Jones Beach and in many towns.

But please, for your safety as well as that of others, don’t terrorize children and animals with loud, personal firecrackers. Fireworks were involved in around 12,900 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments in 2017, 1,200 of them for sparklers. Be careful.

Besides, the day isn’t about the explosions — or military tanks. What we like best about this communally celebrated holiday is its democracy. You don’t really need perfect seats to see rockets light up the sky. Mutual camaraderie can be born while flipping burgers next to a neighbor. Sharing is encouraged and all should be welcome.

Which brings us back to our point about July Fourth. The self-evident truths. The forging of the nation. Life and liberty. The long but achievable road to equality for all people. All of the hopeful and proud things about America, the flag-waving, the stars-and-stripes decorations, become a welcome background for good reason. They buttress everything else we hold dear: the ways we interact with each other, the ways we seek redress when things go wrong, the best version of ourselves that we try to project to the world. Those elements were present even from the very beginning.

So we return to those aspects again and again, as Thomas Jefferson wrote about the holiday: “for ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.”  — The editorial board

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