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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Rice


Updated: Jul 7, 2020

Americans' feelings of freedom, patriotism, and safety about July 4th have declined due to the protest against inequality, the upcoming presidential election, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Market Watch, "The National Retail Federation's survey of almost 8,000 Americans in early June also found that fewer people plan to celebrate Independence Day this year. Three-quarters (76%) do plan to do something, that's a 10-percentage point drop from the 86% who had July 4th plans last year. And just 24% plan to attend a community event or fireworks display, which is a large drop compared with the 41% who participated in one of these activities last year."

In the southern region of the United States, 22% of Americans are predicted not to participate. Richmond natives like Malique Hawkins and Malena Llanos, believe that it is hypocritical for the country to celebrate freedom while a portion of the population lacks independence.

Malique Hawkins, spoken word artist and activist for social justice and civil rights, says, "I will not be celebrating Independence Day. That day celebrates the independence of a people that kept others in chains and bondage for hundreds of years. Therefore, I will be enjoying my time off work, but not "celebrating" the day in the traditional fashion. "

Malena Llanos, the organizer and president of the planned parenthood chapter at Virginia Commonwealth University, does not believe she can celebrate this country at a time when Trump is the president.

Llanos says, "I haven't ‘celebrated’ this holiday for Trump's entire presidency. In 2017 I saw a picture of a child in an ICE detention center watching fireworks from a cage and couldn't help but think about that every single time I saw something related to July 4th.

The holiday is so special to those who will go crazy over protestors destroying a tattered flag yet break US Flag Code with themed Budweiser cans and American flag cowboy hats; hypocrisy is distasteful."

Everyday restrictions of the coronavirus have caused an estimated 74 percent of Americans to not travel for the Fourth and feel less "free" this year than in 2019. As Virginia enters phase three, many consumers are reluctant to attend public events and gather in large groups.

Dr. Jennifer Schrimsher, an infectious disease physician with LMH Health, formerly Lawrence Memorial Hospital, believes that though precautionary measures and regulations surrounding COVID-19 are relaxing, our efforts to keep safe and consider our family and communities health should not.

Dr. Schrimsher says, "The basic tenets are the same: keep your distance, wear a mask, continue daily hand hygiene, and stay home if you're sick. People should still avoid large gatherings and non-essential trips and visits. Everything we do should be viewed through this lens. These simple rules will remain important in keeping ourselves, our families, and our community as safe as possible."

However, executive director of the American Historical Association, Jim Grossman, believes that the holiday honors all Americans.

Grossman says, "It's celebrating democratic institutions, principles of freedom, principles of equality," he says. "We can all get behind that. It's not a single religion. It's not a single group. It honors all Americans for their participation in civic culture, beginning with a group of Americans who gathered to declare the nation independent based upon a set of very admirable principles."



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