On July 4, 1976, I had the good fortune to attend the American Revolution Bicentennial celebration on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., my hometown. I remember how thrilled I was to be part of a crowd of 1 million enjoying the spectacle of fireworks as we collectively celebrated our great country. It was the last time I attended, but my eldest Duluth-born daughter was observing from a canoe on the Potomac River in 2016. She is a good Minnesotan.

It is important to understand that this event traditionally has been a unifying, patriotic celebration for all Americans. However, I am not naive enough to presume that this celebration hasn’t, at times, had an undercurrent of political expression. I also have never seen a president overtly hijack this event for the sole purpose of political promotion and self aggrandizement.

Our president, unfortunately, seems to have chosen this path for this Fourth of July. Where countless presidents before him, both Republicans and Democrats, have shown the humility and strength of character to allow all Americans to celebrate together, this little man has chosen yet another act to divide our great country and pander only to those who support his pathetic, narcissistic need for admiration and attention. Sad.

He claims to be a patriot. Hardly. Patriots support something greater than themselves. He only seems to support himself.

So on this Fourth of July, let’s allow all Americans to celebrate America.

Tom Diener

Lakewood, Minn.