A Positively Amazing July Fourth Celebration
By Susan M. Halpern
Former Addison Councilmember (1992-1999)

Addison celebrates like no other town, particularly when the celebration involves declaring independence from a tyrant. Too often we forget that this is exactly what our country’s founders were doing when they crafted the Declaration of Independence, the very document we hold in reverence and celebrate each July Fourth. Freedom from a tyrant. It’s a wonderful thing.

In the Declaration of Independence, our founders identified grievances against King George, documenting their rejection of his efforts to, in their words, establish “absolute Tyranny over” the then-existing states. They minced no words about any of it, including their view that the King himself was no less than a tyrant (his “character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant”), concluding that he was therefore “unfit to be the ruler of a free people.” Their blunt assessment endures to this day; we can all agree that tyrants are unfit to govern free people anywhere, at any time, EVER. The founders concluded by declaring that the states were “Free and Independent,” and were “Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown.” And our nation was born.

I reflect often about the men and women who founded this country. Although flawed in some ways, they were bold and incredibly brave. I think of Patrick Henry who, not long before the Declaration of Independence was signed, declared: “Give me liberty, or give me death.” These brave men and women couldn’t have imagined the country they were creating, and yet they were willing to sacrifice everything for it. Can you even imagine living back in 1776, let alone telling King George to pound sand?

I’ve also found it interesting that in speaking of “unalienable rights,” our founders focused on “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” They wanted people to be happy, to enjoy their lives. They would surely be proud of Addison, with its strong sense of community and so many amenities to enrich the lives of its residents. And yet, it is clear today – as it was centuries ago – that achieving happiness for our community means guarding freedom and standing up to those who disrespect and challenge freedom. As our founders did, we must continue to reject tyranny, where and when it rears its ugly head. We owe the founders nothing less, even as we pursue “Life, Liberty and Happiness” on a level they surely couldn’t have dreamed about more than two centuries ago.

I think of all this every year as we celebrate our nation’s birth, particularly here in Addison, where our July Fourth traditions include amazing events that unite our community. Our founders would have loved Kaboomtown, and would surely have appreciated the spirit of a little bitty town in North Texas having 500,000+ people over for a picnic and an amazing fireworks show. And I have to say, Addison’s staff does an incredible job organizing and executing this extraordinary event, demonstrating the true ADDISON WAY.

And I’m certain our founders would have loved the Annual July Fourth Children’s Parade. Now there’s an idea we can all get behind: showing children how to celebrate our country and our community, while spreading joy amongst our neighbors. You may have seen the signs around the west side of town, encouraging all to join in the celebration of our freedom on the morning of July Fourth, when the children parade around Les Lacs Park. What a sight it is, with all the splendor appropriately accompanying the celebration of our independence! As is tradition, the parade included the Mayor, many members of the Council, and members of the Addison Police and Fire Departments. They were joined by countless residents and their children. How wonderful to see all these folks joining together to celebrate this national holiday of independence from tyranny. It’s a wonderful example for the children, as they see the Addison Way and feel the sense of community we have here in Addison. How lucky are we to stand united during these wonderful celebrations!

Each July Fourth, as I watch the amazing fireworks, I think about all these things. I am reminded that we can never take our liberty and freedom for granted, including our freedom from tyranny. Freedom isn’t free. Like anything worth having, preservation of liberty and freedom takes commitment and vigilance, including within our town. We know this first hand, having witnessed brazen efforts to subvert our form of government. But Addison residents rightfully rejected them and restored a council of seven independent councilmembers who constructively deliberate and respect our form of government. I am always mindful of all this during the many July Fourth celebrations that were once again so joyful and amazing this year.

I remain firmly convinced that our founders would be proud of our efforts to restore the Addison Way, and would be amazed at the spirit that is evident within our community.

Happy July Fourth everyone!