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Our View: A different kind of fireworks this Fourth

There’s a neighborhood, far away from here, that you might recognize.

In a town you’ve never visited there’s a U-shaped road bordered by houses. Inside the U is a large swath of empty land. The grass stays mowed and there are a few trees the kids try to climb.

Every July Fourth each family that lives on the street brings a dish for the pot luck. Long tables are stretched together on the grass, and the dishes hold down red-and-white checkered tablecloths that flap in the wind.

The neighborhood holds its annual parade. Someone is named grand marshal, and the residents march and ride bicycles behind them.

You’ve never seen this parade, but you’ve joined in all the same.

Today, on the Fourth of July, celebrations will happen across our country. In a thousand tiny towns and large cities alike there will be parades and cookouts, though likely smaller than normal — and only with those you live with — because of the coronavirus. We will celebrate being American.

With a nation divided like ours, you might think that would be tough to do. It’s not.

Everyone has their personal politics, but we all share the beliefs and ideals that make us American. We cherish self-evident truths forged in our founding documents and enshrined at the core of this nation.

So, this Fourth, take a moment away from politics and celebrate the birth of our country. Not the petty politics of the day, but the foundational principles that give our nation shape.

In the past you’d have a karaoke sing-a-long with friends and neighbors in someone’s backyard. The grill is prepped with burgers and hot dogs. The singing is just about to start.

Or, a visitor in a seaside town, you’d join in to the annual parade. A band leads the way playing songs, and everyone bears either a flag or some patriotic clothing.

Maybe you remember taking a turn cranking the homemade ice cream machine. Afterward fathers would start the family fireworks show, leaving a bucket of water nearby in case things grew unwieldy.

Or an adult lights a sparkler for a child, who then joins the others as they run laughing through a dusk-soaked backyard. When it gets too low it’s tossed aside, a rocket sizzling through the air.

These are scenes from another time. Fireworks are illegal in Nevada County. And you probably won’t find many cookouts with friends and neighbors. The coronavirus has stopped that.

But it hasn’t stopped everything. Not yet.

A parade is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. today at Grass Valley City Hall. It’ll wind its way through both cities before ending around 12:30 p.m. on East Main Street.

A virtual parade hosted by Nevada County Media is set for 11 a.m. It can be viewed on Facebook, YouTube and http://www.nevadacountymedia.org, as well as Channel 11 on Comcast and Channel 16 on Suddenlink.

A virtual light show hosted by Nevada County Media is set for 6 p.m. Saturday.

That’s followed by fireworks around 9:30 p.m. above Highway 49 and Dorsey Drive. People are encouraged to stay home, or near home, to watch the show.

It’s not ideal. No one wants this pandemic changing the most basic aspects of our lives. Simply put, it’s not fair.

But what a small inconvenience when compared to what we’re celebrating. Put social distancing next to a group of renegade colonies breaking ties with the British Empire. Men who had everything to lose, putting it all on the table, ready to die for independence.

Their sacrifice puts our current one to shame. We can’t hold barbecues or share hot dogs with neighbors, but must instead stay home and watch fireworks. Hold that up against men who signed their names — which meant their death warrants if they lost — as they pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.

Those were some fireworks to watch.

The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.


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