Posted by: Brad Nixon | July 4, 2020

Independence Day: Wear the Mask

In the United States, today, July 4th, is Independence Day. Many of you readers live in other free nations, where you rightly celebrate your own day of independence. Still, I hope you’ll celebrate with us.

In other countries — too many — “freedom” is compromised. There are places in the world where I wouldn’t be at liberty to write this blog without passing review by some censor. My blog, however innocuous its content, is not available in some portions of the globe, including the People’s Republic of China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Compromises to liberty are ongoing as I write, including one of the most compellingly wonderful places I’ve ever visited, Hong Kong. The hammer is falling there. Would that it were not.

One more reminder that freedom is precious, often hard won, sometimes even harder to retain.

All of us consider that worn old phrase, “The price of freedom.”

In my opinion, part of that price is the responsibility to be a good citizen. Stop at stop signs and red traffic lights, respect your fellow citizens. Simple.

Sometimes, demonstrating that respect imposes limitations on one’s personal freedom. It seems simple enough, on the surface. If there’s something one should do to preserve the social order, the rules of a civil society require one to do it.

Don’t shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater if there’s no fire.

Don’t drive your car on a sidewalk to get around a traffic accident.

In a time of national emergency, wear a mask to preserve the fabric of the union.

Wear a mask to represent that you own your personal responsibility to care for your fellow citizens.

In most countries of the world, that’s a widely accepted practice. Here, in what our national anthem declares to be “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” the notion of donning a mask has become — for some — not a matter of civic responsibility, but some perverse statement of individual right versus the common welfare.

Well, citizens, now we have a choice. We can do whatever we want to do, within certain limits. We still shouldn’t drive through intersections when the light’s red, we shouldn’t drive on the sidewalk, and we should wear the mask: an emblem now of a civil society where the greater good takes precedence over minor inconvenience.

Wherever you live, we invite you celebrate independence with us.

Thomas Paine, a leader of the American Revolution wrote in his pamphlet, The Crisis, in that memorial year, 1776:

The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. 

Brothers and sisters, our freedom to choose is not lightly bestowed, easily won, nor maintained without some effort. Let us take care of one another. This is Independence Day. Let us celebrate it by joining together to mark the downfall of tyrants.

The virus is — if ever there were — a tyrant. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered.

Wear the gosh-darned mask. Wearing it signifies that you respect your fellow citizens and promote the social order, wherever you live. As citizen Paine said, “It is dearness only that gives every thing its value.”

This year, instead of parades, fireworks, we have a rare opportunity: a national holiday for introspection.

Let tyrants remember the day.

Play the music:

The final verse reads:

Let tyrants remember the day
When our fathers with mighty endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever.

© Brad Nixon 2020; Performance of “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” composed by John Philip Sousa, recorded by the U. S. Army Field Band, link retrieved on July 3, 2020.


  1. Happy Independence Day to you all in the US and here some joy and a step nearer to normality as our pubs and restaurants re-open!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Marion. Good luck with the long, steady reopening. Here, as I’m sure you’ve read, things vary, with a lot of latitude given the individual states (in the absence of any cogent response from our federal executive). Here in California, we’re closing things down again, hoping to stem the tide.
      We declared our independence from England, but still treasure that “special relationship.”
      Carry on!


  2. Beautiful!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very eloquently said. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for being our fellow patriot. I know you do not shrink from the service of your country.


  4. Beautifully written.

    Once counterproductive attitudes and behavior become entrenched, changing them is very difficult, especially when political leaders continue to publicly encourage and validate them. Crowd/group mentality is also a factor, as its members feed off of each other, however dangerous or harmful the conduct may be.

    But persevere. “We do things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” — John F. Kennedy

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s a good play on words: “In a time of national emergency, wear a mask to preserve the fabric of the union.”

    Britain made a big mistake when it gave up Hong Kong. China is a dictatorship; dictatorships oppress people.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have yet to wear a mask at work, so most of my days I’m totally unmasked. Of course, I work outdoors, in isolation. Never mind six feet of social distance; sixty feet, or two hundred, is more like it. Does this make me unpatriotic? Uncaring? Narcissistic?

    Having the freedom to decide how best to follow guidelines accords far better with what our nation stands for than demanding uncritical adherence to arbitrary, inconsistent, and ever-changing rules.


  7. It would be great if we had a consistent nation-wide rule or guideline but we are without leadership right now.
    As the wheel at the helm spins wildly and our captain dithers, it may be up to the crew to right the ship.
    Most places that have a mask rule only require it when you are within 6 feet of someone else. So you are essentially following the rules like any other good citizen.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks for the wise and inspiring commentary, Brad. BTW, is that your brother conducting the Army Field Band?

    Liked by 1 person

    • No. That is not. His name is Tim Colton, now a retired Colonel. Like many of the Army’s staff of professional conductors and musicians Col. Colton and my brother encountered one another during their careers.


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