Independence Day



While pondering what to write in this space this week, and there is no shortage of potential topics, it occurred to me that what the beach really needs about now is a break. We need a break from the chaos of government controversies, the battle over taxes and fees and whining about construction. We all could use a break from bad decisions, questionable and clueless politicians and the trouble they cause. Don’t worry, all that will be right where we left it when we come back.

Let’s all take this week off and just celebrate the 4th of July!

The 4th of July party that nearly wasn’t. Fireworks were just about cancelled in March, but some amazing business people stepped up and got the job done, raising thousands of dollars to support fireworks. They couldn’t have done it without the support of thousands of Islanders. That effort deserves a spot in Island lore.

The parade almost wasn’t. A shortage of entrants threatened it but, again, businesses and organizations stepped up and made sure that we will indeed have a 4th of July Parade to watch on Fort Myers Beach.

Now that the 4th has been saved, let’s focus on celebrating it! Looking for reasons why?

This country of ours is now 240 years old, a fact that would stun that small group of upstart colonists. We have weathered many storms. 323 million people call themselves Americans today. We remain a melting pot of cultures, ethnicities, races, religions and languages. Sometimes we’re more of a stew than a soup, but here we are 240 years later. Still Standing.

Our nation is not yet perfect, and it will likely never be because it is composed of human beings, who are notoriously imperfect. It wasn’t perfect back in the good old days either, whether you think of the 1780’s or 1890’s or 1950’s as the good old days.

We face challenges today that seem insurmountable. Many Americans are too often consumed with how awful life is now. Our election cycle does not help. The very nature of a competitive election is that the challengers must point out what’s horribly wrong so they can offer a solution, if elected.

“Make America Great Again”

Readers normally will not see national politics in this opinion space, but this slogan deserves some attention. It boils down the anger and resentment of those who want to go back to when life was good according to them, into four words.

Well, I have some news for those who would imply that our country has become less than great — You’re mistaken.

America is Great!

Right. Now. America is Great!

Our country offers a way of life that is the envy of the world. Still. Those who would say it is not must live in a different America than I do.

America is filled with young men and women who gladly volunteer to serve in our Armed Forces. Every single day they sign up to do whatever their country needs of them. They believe in America!

Every Election Day, millions of Americans cast their ballot freely without intimidation. They believe in America!

Millions of people the world over would love to be granted the right to become an American citizen. They believe in America!

Do we have problems? Sure, we have lots of challenges. Just as we have for the last 240 years. But there is a whole lot of great in this country of ours that is often overlooked because the political rhetoric is busy pandering to those who are angry and feel slighted.

Every child born in America today has the right to a free education. Imagine you have a 12-year-old daughter in Syria.

Every corner of our country, whether large city or rural outpost has public safety agencies that serve and protect it. We are a country of laws no matter where you live. Imagine you were born in Somalia.

American citizens have the right to criticize their government. We can say pretty much anything we want, even if it’s not true, inflammatory or downright hateful, if our inbox is any measure. Doesn’t mean we’ll print it, but the government can’t stop you from saying it. Try that in China.

Americans enjoy religious freedom. They may worship any deity they choose or none at all. America has the broadest, richest variety of spirituality on the planet. And we’re each free to subscribe to any or none. The extent that religious freedom impacts others’ rights is a point currently under debate, but no one will stop you from walking into the church of your choice.

Our communities are filled with good people. Look around. You’ll find neighbors helping neighbors; a bag of food left on a doorstep; a ride to the clinic offered. We all tend to think it’s just our neighborhood or our town, but it’s the whole country. Every community has good people helping others.

This 4th of July is a perfect opportunity to celebrate our great country and really consider how much freedom we do have compared to so many places around the world. And to recognize how truly great America really is.


Missy Layfield