The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on June 30, 2011.

Our family’s 4th of July celebration will be pretty traditional. Our son will come over for a visit. In the morning, we’ll stake out our favorite spot for watching the parade, and later on we’ll enjoy the parade and the other festivities taking place in town. At night, we’ll watch some of the many area fireworks displays. Weather permitting, we’ll throw something on the grill for dinner and – rain or shine – the menu will include my famous homemade potato salad, which everyone in my family loves and which comes from a recipe straight out of the Betty Crocker cookbook.

At some point in the evening, we’ll watch a DVD of the movie, Independence Day. It’s one of our favorite movies, and it’s one we watch several times throughout the year – not just on the 4th of July.

I still remember when that movie first came out. Not so much because of the movie itself, but because of the reaction it inspired in someone I knew. She wrote for a small, local publication – I should mention that this was long before we moved to Minnesota, and “local” was nowhere near Chanhassen – and went on a rant about what a wake-up call this movie should be for everyone because the events it portrayed could happen to us at anytime.

Since the movie is about an invasion of aliens from outer space, I thought this was a bit of a stretch. Still, there are some things about the movie that hit pretty close to home, and seem even more relevant now than when the movie first came out in 1996. And I find them to be both inspiring and demoralizing at the same time.

The inspiring part is how people who are very different from one another – in the case of the movie, it’s people from countries all over the world – can come together in the face of a common enemy, and act in unity and cooperation to fight against forces that threaten everyone’s safety and freedom. The demoralizing part is that it usually takes an enemy of that magnitude and power – someone or something capable of and intent on destroying us – to get us to join forces and engage in the kind of universal cooperation and support that’s needed to fight against it. Sometimes it’s an act of nature – an earthquake, flood, hurricane, tsunami or tornado – that causes people to rally to the cause and work together, either in preparation for it or in its aftermath. At other times it’s an act of aggression – terrorists from outside or within our own borders. And sometimes it’s totally internal – as in the political battles that cause or threaten government shutdowns over budgets and control of policies and programs.

My hope this Independence Day – and everyday – is that we all will remember or relearn how much power there is in a unified effort of cooperation and support, and how dangerous and destructive it is to spend our energy and resources battling with ourselves and each other. I hope we will use that wisdom in a way that honors and exemplifies the name of the United States of America. And I hope that everyone is able to take part this Independence Day in whatever traditions and celebrations they value the most.

© Betty Liedtke, 2011