Families across the country recently celebrated the Fourth of July like they always do: with annual beach trips, barbecues, baseball games, and fireworks. But one of my favorite local traditions was canceled, courtesy of Congress.
Every year on the Fourth, without fail, my family and I would take a trip to Sagamore Hill. Affectionately nicknamed the “Summer White House,” Sagamore Hill was President Teddy Roosevelt’s home on Long Island. Today, it’s a National Historic Site operated by the National Park Service.
For me, Sagamore Hill was a magical place that came to life on the Fourth of July. Rough Riders rode their horses. TR look-a-likes strolled across the grounds. Nature trails demanded to be explored. And the great mansion begged visitors to see its curious antiquities.
Not this year. Due to the sequester, this national treasure was forced to reduce its annual budget by $76,000. Independence Day was canceled in 2013.
You know things are bad when the Summer White House can’t afford to stay open on the Fourth of July.
But Sagamore Hill’s event wasn’t the only one canceled. All across the country, communities went without their July Fourth fireworks, traditions, and festivals. Bands were silent. Skies were empty.
Yes, the sequester has had worse effects: School budgets, environmental initiatives, and health services across the nation have been cut. People are losing their jobs. Some children have lost their Head Start slots. Some seniors aren’t getting the meals-on-wheels they used to.
But the cancelation of smaller programs also demands outrage. They may be taken for granted, but they’re the kind of services that build communities.