We decided to watch the fireworks from Portland's Mt. Tabor tonight and that provoked a discussion: should we view the fireworks from the top or down near the water reservoir? Liz cited Willamette Week in arguing for the reservoir:
As the highest elevation point on the close-in east side, the upper slopes of Mount Tabor afford the best vantage point for watching Fourth of July fireworks shows from Oaks Park to Fort Vancouver. By the park’s upper reservoir, a quiet crowd of families, couples, dogs and other upstanding Portland denizens ooh and ahh at the rockets’ red glare. Yawn-inducing, isn’t it? But above the reservoir, on Tabor’s dimly lit hillsides, are the city’s real liberty-lovers—and Southeast Portland’s (if not all of Portland’s) largest drinking-and-illegal-fireworks-launching Independence Day party.
I advocated for the top of the mountain. If you're gonna see fireworks you've gotta have the best view and what does Willamette Week know?
More than me, apparently.
We arrived three hours early, lots of families already there, enjoyed a picnic, took the kids to the playground, watched a beautiful sunset over the Portland skyline and then waited for the fireworks to begin.
And that's when the liberty-lovers showed up. Drunk. Really drunk. And they stood directly in front of all the families and other folks who had waited hours for the show - blocking the view.
People cried: Down in front! A few listened but a lot didn't. Frustrated, I went in to explain the situation.
You've got kids here who've been waiting hours and you're blocking the view. Just sit down or move.
No way, said the ring leader. This is about freedom.
Freedom? Did I just walk into a Tea Party rally?
That's right, he said, freedom to stand where you want. And who cares about the kids anyway. They won't remember this when they grow up. If I move I won't be able to see.
That's when I lost my temper. Did he really say that? Yep, he did. I don't lose my temper very often but oh boy tonight was a night. Lyndon Johnson would have enjoyed some of the language I used but I regret it. It wasn't helpful and was even foolish.
What I should have told the little freedom lover was that when the Founders signed the Declaration on July 4th they concluded it by saying:
"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."
They didn't say "I." Freedom isn't about just "I." Freedom is about "us." How we live together. How we support one another.
I let my anger take away a good opportunity. Then again, he was drunk and it wouldn't have mattered.
The real lesson here is that Liz is always right from the start.
Willamette Week? They still get stuff wrong all the time.
Still, it was a beautiful sunset.