Each year on this date I try to find an image that captures America in a nutshell (here are the ones from 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008). The one I’ve chosen this year shows four girls who wore simulated blood and gunshot wounds, similar to what you’d see in a movie, as part of a recent practice drill to help students and first responders prepare for a mass-shooting event at a Long Island school.
People may disagree on the issues surrounding school shootings, but I think we can all agree that it’s pretty horrifying that we’ve reached the point where kids have to take part in this type of exercise, even as a simulation. The photo also seems to capture the larger state of our nation — scarred, injured, toxic, unsure of how to move forward. Again, we may disagree on the details, but I’m pretty sure most of us think things are pretty messed up and getting worse. And who will inherit this messed-up world we’re creating? Kids like these girls.
Sorry, I realize that’s a downer. But the photo really captured a bunch of feelings I’ve been having lately.
And yet: Today is Independence Day, which remains a cause for celebration. Please accept my best wishes for a happy holiday. I’ll be busy today but the comments are open, so feel free to chat among yourselves. If you have a few minutes, I heartily recommend reading the Declaration of Independence, whose ratification is what we’re celebrating today. (Here’s a typeset version, in case you can’t decipher the handwriting.)
If you’re traveling today, travel safe. If you’re playing with pyrotechnics, don’t pull a Jason Pierre-Paul. If you’re working, thanks for keeping the world spinning while the rest of us get to enjoy a day off. And if you’re spending the day in the company of a Britisher, kindly pass along my annual Independence Day rallying cry: In your face, Redcoats! — Paul