Falmouth is almost a century older than the U.S.A.
It is interesting that 233 years ago tomorrow, as the ink was drying on the Declaration of Independence and a fledgling nation was emerging in Philadelphia, Falmouth was already 90 years old, ready to celebrate a century of local democracy.
So, on this anniversary of our nation, as Falmouthites and visitors alike, we should reflect not only on what it means to be an American, but what it means - why we are grateful - to have the privilege to live in our slice of Americana known as Falmouth.
I wonder if our founders, as brilliant and visionary as they were, could have begun to comprehend the meaning that this observance would come to have.
Yes, for many, tomorrow will be filled with an overabundance of food, spirits, and celebrations. Those commercialized interpretations of the 4th of July, although important in many of our lives, really miss the point. Here are some thoughts, from a local and national perspective, on what this day of independence mean to me:
Our celebration of America's birthday, as nations in and out of this hemisphere resort to violence as a way to change leaders and have the voices of the people heard, means that we still have the privilege of casting our votes in peace, with no fear of violence, to shout out our democratic voice, recognizing, as did the founders on the first fourth, that power is derived from the "consent of the governed." Imagine that. It means that we can honor those who fought, thought, wrote, and died to make that peaceful vote possible, this day and every other. Here in Falmouth, it means that opinionated gents like me get to share thoughts on our local democratic experiment - agreeing and disagreeing, praising and criticizing - with the full confidence that those thoughts and opinions are a vital part of the process. Imagine that.
How about nearly 200 elected Town Meeting Members taking the time this week on a rare sunny June evening to pile into the Lawrence Memorial Auditorium for a Town Meeting - with nothing said from Gadflies Rich Latimer and Dan Shearer? Imagine that!
Having this Special Town Meeting near the eve of our nation's birthday was a fitting tribute to the importance and endurance of our uniquely American form of local government and the citizen-public servants that make it work. This concept of locals taking time to assist in the workings of local government is a direct result of the citizen-soldiers who took up arms in that conflict so many years ago. Imagine that.
As 25,000 people pile onto the beaches of Falmouth Heights tomorrow night, most of them will marvel in the fireworks display thanks to the Falmouth Fireworks Committee and over100 of our men and women from the Falmouth Police and Fire Departments will keep everything safe and orderly. Among those 25,000 will be Falmouth native Ron DeSouza, who knows what it means to serve this great nation as a 20 year veteran of the U.S. Army and has traveled all the way from Oklahoma to catch a glimpse of a hometown 4th. Imagine that.
As we enjoy a hot dog or two with family and friends, we can pause to reflect on the current sacrifice of men and women who proudly wear the stars and stripes on their shoulders as they munch on their MREs across the globe. Today, more than three million men and women serve the United States as active and reserve members of the military. Imagine that.
Here in Falmouth, our celebration will include village celebrations in Woods Hole, North Falmouth, Teaticket, and East Falmouth, as well as the annual bike parade down Main Street, where the village lines, if only for a day, vanish in favor of a unified Falmouth. Imagine that.
So here in Falmouth, 233 years after a group of 56 men, ages 26 to 70, gathered to declare our rights to live freely, we continue to do so. How beautifully simple but incredibly powerful. Imagine that.
This column is reprinted from the Falmouth Enterprise. Photo courtesy of the Falmouth Chamber of Commerce.