Fourth of July gives us a time to reflect, be hopeful

Published 9:47 pm Wednesday, July 3, 2024

The Fourth of July in Vicksburg is one of my favorite times of the year. Maybe it’s the fantastic job the city and our local organizations do with the fireworks display and other celebrations. Maybe it’s enjoying the holiday in a place so steeped in history in general; or maybe it’s some combination of the two. Regardless of the reasons, my kids and I really enjoy it. But this year, I offer up the idea that it can be more than just a good time: It can be a catalyst for hope.

As we covered the different Independence Day celebrations going on throughout the week, I experienced the strange juxtaposition of taking photos at a patriotic event, only to get back into my car and spend the next 10 minutes listening to CNN seem to forecast our nation’s impending doom. And look, I get it: I saw the debate, too. I won’t get political today, but let’s face it: Our choices come November aren’t great.

Add to that already gloomy reality the fact that one of the two candidates is now a convicted felon and the other is seemingly considering bowing out the race altogether, and it all adds up to this being an unprecedented time to be an American, and not in a good way. But isn’t that, at least in part, where we thrive as a country?

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All of this week’s hoopla, after all, centers around the fact that we declared our independence from the most powerful empire in the world at the time and then went on to fight and win a war against that empire. If that’s not going against the grain, I don’t know what is. 

In the 248 years since that 1776 declaration, America has only become more stubborn in our insistence on not just surviving difficult situations, but thriving in them. It was “The Greatest Generation” of Americans that helped turn the tides of World War II as soldiers and that stepped up at home to keep our country running in their absence. It was the American spirit that put men on the moon and American innovation that has kept us at the forefront of global industries for two and half centuries. It’s that same spirit and determination that make us one of the few remaining superpowers today.

Has it all been perfect? Far from it. Have there been missteps? More than a few. And call me overly optimistic, but my point is we have been in more than a few tight spots over the years and always found a way to come out the other side. We will come out of our current predicament as well. As someone who has made a living in community newspapers for two decades now, I’ve learned the value of political commentary, but also of keeping my personal beliefs to myself when possible. But, I’ll say this about it all: I don’t always have the most trust in the American government, but I have more than enough faith in the American people to make up for it. 

And whether he was genuine when he said it, or just being one of the world’s best politicians, I firmly believe in my heart Bill Clinton was correct when he said, “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.”

Happy Fourth of July.

Blake Bell is the general manager and executive editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at