A small town celebration in Texas tell us a lot about what matters to Texans. And, in broader terms, what matters to Americans on the whole. So when the occasion is the Fourth of July, the way that Texans celebrate tells us a lot about what makes this nation great.
What does it mean, indeed, to be a nation? A nation is “a soul, a spiritual principle,” as one writer put it. “A nation is constituted not only by present-day actions but also by the powerful residue of the past.” This shared past, and its transmission to the next generation, sum up what it means to be a nation. As Ernest Renan put it, the nation, like the individual, is the combination of past endeavors, sacrifice, and devotion…. As such, community is the accumulation of common glories past with a unified will in the present.” A nation, then, could be thought of as individuals sewn together by community.
And what a nation we are.
The Everyday Patriot as Described by Aristotle
Aristotle said that, by nature, man is a “political animal.” This means many things. But dare we say the most important is that we are, in some sense, made to live in community with one another. We are by nature belonging creatures. And one of the deepest needs of the human soul is a sense of membership. More, it’s a joy in what we have and hold in common with others. And what more basic element could we find in common with our neighbors than American pride?
Patriotism in Today’s World
Despite all our different political leanings, ideals, and philosophies, at our core, we are all American. This fact, when embraced, can only instill a sense of pride. Patriotism flows from a natural, healthy love for what is one’s own. Further, it flows from gratitude for what one has been given. And reverence for the sources of one’s being. Such dispositions are more visceral than intellectual, being grounded in our nature at the elemental core of our birth.
July 4th: Ideal Occasion for Small Town Celebrations
We celebrate July 4th for two reasons. One, it represents the official severing of ties between the 13 colonies and the rule of Great Britain. Secondly, we celebrate the 4th as a representation of our core beliefs. The 4th underpins the very makeup of our identity as citizens of the United States. Don’t buy it? Just take a look at the Declaration of Independence. It stands as America’s guidepost. An unassailable document, the Declaration embodies what it means to be an American, and expresses everything we hold dear.
Although written in a different time with different social norms and philosophical constructs, the Declaration endures. The words, “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” express what is etched on every American’s soul. This idea has emboldened our paths as individuals and allowed us to remain strong as a nation. And 243 years later, liberty still prevails. Who wouldn’t want to celebrate that?!
Building Community from the Past
We are not lacking in an awareness that all men are created equal. What we might find ourselves lacking is in remembering and teaching our children to remember the meaning of Lexington and Concord, Independence Hall, and Iwo Jima. To hold sacred the words written in 1776. Only in teaching and tending to every aspect of patriotism — love of America, the sacrifice made for Her, and love of Her ideals — can we build an even better tomorrow. This elevates our sense of belonging and allows us to live in accordance with the very best thing in us – pride for country.
John Adams, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, said it best. He wrote that the 4th of July should “be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore.”
Forward into 2021
Ready to celebrate? If you’re looking for some pomp and pageantry in our own neck of the woods, we’ve got you covered! Here are our top 4 family getaways for the 4th this 2021. And each and every stop is just a car ride away!
1 – Small Town Celebration: Granbury, Texas
2 hours from Abilene, Texas
Granbury is known as the place “Where Texas History Lives.” Come see this history come to life July Fourth! Granbury commemorates American history with one of the top 10 fireworks shows in Texas. Other activities precede that highlight. Enjoy a viewing of South Pacific at the Opera House. A car show. A ghosts-and-legends tours. View the decorated bike contest. And a Hometown Parade makes its way down Pearl Street.
2 – Small Town Celebration: Fredericksburg, Texas
2.5 hours from Abilene, Texas
3 – Small Town Celebration: Luckenbach, Texas
3 hours from Abilene, Texas
One of Texas’ tiniest towns holds one of the largest Fourth of July celebrations each year. Luckenbach, the small Hill Country town made famous by Willie Nelson’s classic tune, holds its Fourth of July Picnic every Independence Day. This free celebration features live music, games, food, drink, and, of course, the World Famous Luckenbach Lawn Mower Parade.
4 – Small Town Celebration: Leander, Texas
3 hours from Abilene, Texas
Looking for something a bit different? Then Leander is the place for you! Bring your bathing suit and inner tubes, folks, because its time for Jaws on the Water! Volente Beach Resort in Leander takes the quintessential Fourth of July movie up a notch by allowing you to watch it on the big screen — from the water. Buy admission for the movie and also get to spend time at the resort, with its Lazy Lagoon, volleyball, and beachside bar and grill. You can buy or borrow an inner tube to watch the movie, or bring your own. It’s a can’t miss event!
If you’re willing to drive just a bit farther…
4 hours from Abilene, TX
In Wimberley, residents start their July Fourth off right with a shopping trip to the Hill Country’s largest open-air market. There, they can snag some delicious produce for an all-American picnic or purchase arts and crafts with red, white, and blue flair. The town also enjoys the “Best Little Parade in Texas,” an annual rodeo, Patriotic Concerts, and, don’t forget, the Big Scoop Ice Cream Festival. Yum!!!
Round Top, TX
4.5 hours from Abilene, TX
In Round Top, Fourth of July is a 167-year-old tradition, and folks there like to say it’s the longest-running Independence Day celebration west of the Mississippi. At 10:30 a.m. sharp on the Fourth, a cannon booms, announcing the town parade. Afterward, residents and visitors alike gather to feast on smoked brisket and German-style potatoes, followed by a dance at the Round Top Rifle Hall. Want to start the festivities before the actual 4th? Those who want to start earlier in the week can head to the Round Top Inn for a softball tournament and apple pie contest. Because what’s the nation’s birthday without some baseball and apple pie? ~~~~~
Wherever this fourth finds you, may it find you happy and safe, from this day forward, forevermore! Happy Birthday, America! You truly are the land that we love.