I still remember when the first Independence Day movie came out 20 years ago. We were living in Virginia at the time, and one of the things I remember most – even before seeing the movie – was reading a commentary someone had written about it in a small, local publication. She insisted we should see the movie as a wake-up call, and should be taking steps to prepare ourselves in case of an alien attack, because it was absolutely realistic and possible that we would someday have visitors from outer space. And, naturally, these visitors could be coming at us with ill intent and advanced technology and weaponry.

I didn’t get the same feeling when I went to see the movie, which my whole family enjoyed and which is now on our list of favorite movies. It’s become a family tradition that we watch a DVD of the movie every year on or near the 4th of July.

One of my favorite parts of the movie was the speech given by Bill Pullman, as President of the United States, on the 4th of July, just before the epic battle with the aliens. In his speech, he called for everyone on earth to come together to fight our common enemy, one that was here with the intention of eliminating mankind.

“We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore,” he said, noting that if we won the battle and survived the day, Independence Day would no longer be an American holiday, but a holiday for the whole world.

This was, of course, a science fiction movie. But it was still an inspiring speech.

My husband and I went to see the new Independence Day movie over the weekend. Although the movie got lousy reviews, we had fun watching it. And I enjoyed the speech given by the current president at the beginning of the movie, during a 20-year anniversary celebration of the events of the first movie.

In her speech, she acknowledged that the technology recovered from alien ships after the first attack had allowed us to build “a stronger and safer earth,” and noted that there had been no significant conflicts anywhere in the world in the last 20 years.

Talk about science fiction.

Still, it’s interesting to think about what it might take for that to really happen – something that would inspire everyone on earth to work with each other instead of against each other. Certainly, an alien invasion by creatures from outer space – creatures determined to annihilate the human race – should do it. But even though I’m an upbeat, positive-outlook person by nature, I fear that if there ever were a situation in which we all needed to pull together in order to survive – even just in the U.S., let alone the world – we’d be doomed.

I wish there were something besides epic disasters or threats that could bring people together to help and support each other – something that reflected common goals and interests, rather than common threats and enemies.

I suppose that’s too much to hope for, in the movies or in real life. But what an Independence Day celebration that would be!


The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on June 30, 2016.
©Betty Liedtke, 2016

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