There is little doubt that the mood in Avalon on Independence Day reflected the hardy resolve that has evolved as part of the island culture.
Missing from the day were the worries about the bandaged sewer system, there were no discussion of taxes, transit fees or a multitude of other problems.
This was a day for celebration and from all accounts, what a celebration it was!
Islander’s know that this is a day when everyone connected the island comes back, even if just for a day. Some say the crowd was massive as the island’s infrastructure strained to support a crowd that easily doubled, if not tripled for the wonderous day.
It is sometimes amazing how events can influence human behavior and you wonder why this sort of comradery is not present throughout the year.
Perhaps it is because we as humans are complicated and are capable of inexplicable feats.
For example, there was a World War II combat veteran that once told the story about his days on the front lines. His unit was truly the front line, in some cases less than one hundred yards from German troops.
There was only a large, open field that separated the young men; German soldiers defending one side of the field and American soldiers trying to move them out of the way.
One morning, out of nearby woods, jumps this large jack rabbit, that ran like a scared rabbit across the field. All of sudden, the youth on both sides were transformed.
Instead of shooting at each other, they trained their sights on the rabbit darting across the field. It became a huge competition between the Germans and the Americans as they trained their guns on the rabbit to see which side had the best marksman.
My friend said it was a lucky rabbit. It made it across the field as some men cheered. Once the rabbit escaped safely into the woods on the other side, however, the soldiers had no choice but to go back to shooting at each.
Just as the rabbit changed young men for a day, holidays like Independence Day brings out the true strength of Catalina Island. If only the teamwork, pride and fellowship demonstrated this week could last all year long, it’s hard to imagine how quickly intractable problems might be solved.
It is heartwarming to see how deeply islanders love their city and their island. Perhaps even deeper than most because in a very real sense, they are locked in this battle together, on an island, more than an hour from any mainland.
While this creates major logistical hurdles, it is also amazing to see how easily islander’s handled the incredible feat of getting people in and out, getting equipment in and out, making way for the influx of people for the celebration and did all of it without a single hint of trouble.
As an islander, it perhaps occurs without notice. For a relative newcomer, however, the strength of character and agility of the island as an entity is truly something to behold.
More than likely, the common interests we all share on this most patriotic day will evaporate as the grind of our personal agendas come back into the focus, as perhaps they should.
Before they do, however, we should try to capture the incredible pride of Catalina’s strength. For sure, it is never more evident than on this day the awesome spirit that abounds on Catalina Island. Even if more pronounced on this special day, this hardy island’s culture of self-reliance reveals a deep love of the island and an affinity for each other among its residents.
If only every day could be Independence Day.
David N. Young is editor of the Catalina Islander. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.