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July 11, 2013

KEPPELER: The real 'reason for the season'

Tonawanda News — “That’s the reason for the season.”

It’s a phrase you hear a lot around Christmastime here in the United States. It can be a gentle way of pointing out the religious reasons behind all the hubbub and shopping, or an angry retort to those who prefer their holiday secular or of a different religious stripe. (Ironically, many of our holidays and traditions here — including those of Christmas and Easter — can be traced back to pagan roots, but that’s a different story.)

Either way, it’s a reminder that there’s history here. These roots go back. There is a purpose behind this.

You don’t hear that phrase much — if at all — around Independence Day. In fact, it’s more commonly referred to simply as the Fourth of July, a name that is about as simply descriptive as it can get. 

It’s a holiday of simple traditions, at its core. We oooh and aaaaah at fireworks. We wear our red, white and blue. We stock up on hamburgers and hot dogs, drag out the grill and gather our friends and family to celebrate. Maybe some of us think just a little about the reasons — we type “Happy birthday, America!” on Facebook or hang our U.S. flags outside our homes — but that’s about the extent of it.

Western New York lit up the night skies again this year for the Fourth of July, with fireworks displays throughout the Tonawanda region and beyond. I’ve seen a lot of them myself, from Olean to Lewiston and many places in between. (I think my favorites are still at the University at Buffalo, although I hope to see the Olcott fireworks over Lake Ontario one of these days.) We didn’t get to see much of them this year on the day itself: Small children and morning commitments will do that to you.

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