The meaning of the Fourth of July is changing within American communities

Fiona Flaherty, Reporter

Americans aspire to set aside their differences and come together on the Fourth of July as one nation to celebrate its ideals. However, when the country seems more divided than ever, this idea of celebrating the Fourth as a unified American community seems challenging.

On this day of unity and celebration, several people in San Francisco shared their perspectives.

“I’ve seen that the U.S. is quite fragmented,” Alan Tiwama, a visitor to San Francisco from the UK, said. “Depending on which towns you are in, ethnicities and backgrounds are at play here. I tend to find that everybody wants to stick to their own. They don’t want to integrate.”

Identifying with people with similar backgrounds is natural human behavior, so sticking to a smaller, more familiar community in times of trouble provides comfort for many.

“I am in a bike-music collective based out of Oakland,” San Francisco resident Alyssa Rodriguez said. “It’s a great way to get the community involved at our shows. We ride our bikes to power our stage. Being in the music community, we can express ourselves. That’s where I thrive.”

People in communities like Rodriguez’s likely have a stronger, more connected community, especially at a local or regional level. But what about the people who don’t share common interests?

“Some people may feel that yes, communities are not closer…because there are so many cultures,” Monica Naidu, an Atlanta, Georgia resident, said. “It’s not easy to do that anyways. People may have different opinions and or feelings about the Fourth of July, but I am pretty okay with celebrating and being part of the function of celebration.”

While many are bothered by the current political climate and debate what it means to be an American, the Fourth of July remains an opportunity to celebrate the diversity of the United States.

“We could keep the same day, July 4, and instead of memorializing a war…we could make a condition of saying, ‘This is independence from tyranny,’ and it reminds people to relax,” Portland broadcast journalist Laedi Monte said. “Just remind people that community is important. Eating together is important. Seeing each other is important.”