Plain City, Utah, proved once again neighborhoods and communities are the heart and soul of America and the places where people come together in amazing ways.
For decades, Plain City has delivered a fireworks display for residents to honor Independence Day. That string of celebrations nearly ended when the truck and trailer transporting this year’s pyrotechnics was involved in a significant accident. While the driver escaped with minor injuries, the truck, trailer and fireworks couldn’t finish their journey.
The easiest thing to do would have been to cancel the celebration. Residents could have been encouraged to go watch fireworks elsewhere. Instead, Plain City Mayor Jon Beesley did what great local officials around the country do on a regular basis: He called on the people to come together, solve a problem and unite.
Mayor Beesley invited residents to bring whatever firepower they had and donate them to the cause. He stationed fire officials at the Posse grounds at Lee Olsen Park to receive the donations and cobble them together into a truly one-of-a-kind Fourth of July fireworks display.
The people of Plain City could have whined and complained. The mayor could have petitioned the state and federal government and insurance companies for redress. That, of course, would have done little to actually help the situation.
It is also vital for Americans to remember that politicians rarely, if ever, lead — they follow. Scott Rasmussen, in his book "Politics Has Failed: America Will Not," writes, “The powerful principles and inspiring ideals penned in the Declaration of Independence were not even written until 15 months after the War of Independence began.” The Declaration was certainly a great galvanizing document, but it definitely was not a leading document.
In an interview with historian David Barton, Barton told the Deseret News the first four battles fought in the American Revolution — Lexington, Concord, the Road to Boston and Bunker Hill — were all carried out by local communities standing up and taking action.
Early patriots recognized they were fighting for their local community, their friends and their family. They were not going to sit around and wait for central planning to develop a strategy.
The willingness to act locally proved to be priceless in the colonists’ collective pursuit of freedom for the nation. The Rev. Jonas Clark rallied 70 men out of his church to face 700 British soldiers in the battle of Lexington. The Rev. William Emerson gathered 300 locals to fight in the battle of Concord Bridge, and that model continued at Boston and Bunker Hill. Communities stood and fought and led — and freedom did not fall.
Rather than looking to Washington for answers to difficult questions, looking to communities first is always the best place to start.
Plain City residents came together Thursday to save a national holiday and reminded everyone of the priceless gift of community that unity can bring. In doing so, they showed Utah and the nation that by turning to people instead of politicians, community instead of Congress, and culture instead of government control, the future looks bright. That is gift worthy of America.