The Fourth of July: A personal reflection on the meaning of independence

By: Annie Burnham

I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives.  I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.  ~Abraham Lincoln

Sometimes, it’s easy to complain about the freedoms we have that we feel are infringed upon or mishandled; but how often are we truly grateful just simply for the freedoms we have? This Independence Day, while we enjoy cookouts and fireworks, let’s find creative ways to express our gratitude to those who fought 237 years ago for our independence. Let’s take a moment to be present and remember the people who protect those freedoms today.

We’ve all got holiday stories and memories. As you read what Independence Day means to me, I hope you’ll reflect upon what it means to you. Please share your stories and reflections in the comments section.

I don’t typically get excited about the Fourth of July. In past years, I’ve always seen it as mostly another way for people to eat good food and watch fireworks. But this year, I decided to reexamine this holiday that is often celebrated without thought to the real meaning behind it.

The last few months I’ve become very interested in my grandfather’s life. I am the oldest granddaughter, and I was the only one who really got to know him before he passed away in 2002. I couldn’t say “grandfather” as a little girl, so I shortened his name to “Gran-Gran.” The name stuck and everyone calls him that to this day.  Being a writer, I’m fascinated with stories about people I have known. Through a series of informal interviews with my grandmother and hours devoted to scouring Alabama newspaper archives, I’ve begun creating Gran-Gran’s memoir.

Horace Rupert Burnham

Horace Rupert Burnham

Horace Rupert Burnham (known as Pat to most) was born on a farm in Calhoun County, Ala. Growing up he worked hard as one of three children on a farm. At age 18, he was drafted in the army at the beginning of World War II in 1939. When he returned after the war, a lot had changed. His mother, Annie Cheatwood (I’m named after her) had passed away and his father had remarried.  Gran-Gran met my grandmother in French class at Jacksonville State UniversityThey dated through college but both wanted to pursue higher education, so he went to law school at the University of Alabama and my grandmother went to Columbia University in New York City. His degree was funded by the GI Bill, but he also worked in the local Post Office. He began practicing law shortly after obtaining his degree. In 1952, he was called back to military service to serve in the Korean War. Shortly before he shipped out, he and my grandmother, Jane Self, married.

Upon his return from the Korean War, he got into politics. His Christian beliefs and his experience as an investigator of war crimes in Nuremberg after WWII led to his deep convictions about civil rights. He rose to become a member of the Alabama House of Representatives during the time while George Wallace was governor of Alabama. Gran-Gran was at odds with Governor Wallace‘s views about civil rights. After deciding that he wanted to spend more time with his family and serving his local community, Gran-Gran stepped down from politics. My grandfather was dedicated to fighting for civil rights and against the segregation of schools in Calhoun County. He worked hard in his town, known by all as a respectable man and one heck of a lawyer.  He was a man of dignity and bravery; a man of courage and honor. I want to be like him – willing to sacrifice everything for what I believe in because it is the right thing to do. I think that is why he was in the military, why he fought for the rights of all people, and why he loved his family the way he did.

Gran-Gran & My Dad 2001

Gran-Gran & My Dad in 2001

He knew the responsibility of fighting for his country and the honor that it earned him – but he also knew the cost. He was there at the beaches at Normandy; how many of those young men did he see fall?? I can only imagine the sense of awe that came upon him every Fourth of July, knowing he played a part in the grand defense of our great nation. I think he would be saddened by my lack of celebration in years past. This year, I think he’ll be proud.


For love or for money?

by Annie Burnham

Hallmark Cards celebrates its 100th birthday on Valentine’s Day. Though it is a day dedicated to love, Valentine’s Day ranks among the highest of profit-generating holidays. Hallmark’s data shows that 151 million greeting cards will be exchanged. Only Christmas trumps Valentine’s Day in terms of card-sending. The popularity of the holiday, however, begs the question: “Is this holiday still about celebrating love, or has it become a commercialized day promoted for profit and capitalistic gain?”

The first mass production of Valentine’s Day was in 1847. The idea of showing love to your sweetie has been an important concept through the years. Many people take advantage of this holiday to take big steps in their relationships such as proposing or getting married, dressing up and going out to dinner to celebrate their love. Through this commercialization, Valentine’s Day helps businesses meet their bottom line each year.

Of course, other holidays also support businesses, such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and July 4th. However, it seems that each year Valentine’s Day gets the brunt of criticism for being overly commercialized. Why is that?

Valentine’s Day is soaked in pink and red, covered in fuzzy teddy bears, and smells overwhelmingly of chocolate and flowers. Is it just one big extravaganza for the commercial industry to increase profits and exploit men willing to buy $50 bouquets of roses? Has the greeting card industry become more worried about the bottom line than promoting the foundation of the holiday – love? According to The National Retailer Foundation, Americans will spend approximately $18.6 billion on Valentine’s Day gifts, card, and candy this year. Money spent on jewelry alone will equate for $4.4 billion of that total – an “average of $12.75 for every man, woman, and child in America.” Here are a few more statistics on Valentine’s Day according to the National Retailer Foundation:

  • 9 million pets across America will receive Valentine’s Day treats.
  • 110 million roses (mostly red) will be sold.
  • The average American man will spend $175.61 on his sweetie.
  • The average price for a dozen roses is $85.
  • People will spend $1.7 billion on flowers

So I ask you, College of Business students and alumni: Is Valentine’s Day a special holiday for love, or has consumerism overtaken the celebration?

Where are the fireworks?

by Courtney Grogan

To start off, I would like to recognize those who have been affected by the wildfires burning across the state. I know we all have gratitude for the firefighters who are protecting homes and our Colorado scenery. Even though these fires are becoming more contained each day, most cities in Colorado have cancelled their annual fireworks either out of precaution or respect for those affected by the fires. Since no Independence Day is complete without fireworks, where can you go to see them? Here is a list of some of the major fireworks displays near Fort Collins:


  • City of Loveland Fireworks Display
    • July 4th, Fireworks start at 9:17 p.m.
    • North Lake Park, Taft Avenue and 29th Street


  • Greeley Stampede
    • July 4th, Fireworks start at 10 p.m.
    • Island Grove Park, 600 North 14th Avenue


  • Denver Outlaws Game
    • July 4th, Fireworks start after the game
    • Sports Authority Field at Mile High, 1701 Bryant St.
  • 4thof July at Elitch Gardens
    • July 4th, Fireworks start at 9 p.m.
    • Elitch Gardens, 2000 Elitch Circle
  • Independence Day Eve
    • TODAY July 3rd, 8 p.m.
    • Civic Center Park, Broadway and Colfax

Unfortunately, Fort Collins decided to postpone their fireworks display at City Park, but there will still be festivities in Old Town Square on July 4th.

For an updated list of fireworks displays, check out this site. If you know of any displays not listed please comment! Where will you be celebrating the 4th of July tomorrow?