Friday -- no, make that the entire weekend -- is a big one.
The Fourth of July is many things to many people across the land. It’s a holiday, sure, but it’s a holiday packed into a long weekend.
It’s when patriotism flows, or at least it provides a reason for people to spend hundreds upon hundreds of dollars to make things go boom and light up the sky.
It’s when people launch their first major vacation of the summer.
Those not traveling often turn it into a backyard occasion, filled with grilling, swimming, yard games and the like with family and friends.
July Fourth is also a busy, potentially dangerous and tragic holiday. Too often, with the Fourth comes a mix of crowded roadways, highways and interstates traveled by weary drivers anxiously trying to get from one point to another to cram all they can into the long weekend or vacation. Also too often, it comes with a mix of driving and excessive drinking, leading to tragedies on our highways. Lakes and oceans also become places where danger lurks. And then there are the accidents that occur as a result of improper handling of fireworks.

We value you, our readers, and simply want to remind you to exercise caution and moderation this Fourth of July weekend. Enjoy the time with family and friends, but do so carefully. Have a great vacation, whether it’s in the heart of our nation’s capital or along the Grand Strand.
If traveling, be extra attentive. Leave distance between your car and the one ahead of you. An extra minute or two on the road beats spending hours in the ER. Or worse.
Use caution and exercise moderation in just about everything and you should be back safe and sound. Don’t mix too much fun in the sun, don’t mix alcohol and driving, don’t get into overdrive with inadequate sleep.
Remember, the Fourth really is all about taking time to celebrate this country’s independence. Granted, like so many holidays it’s become a reason to cut loose and have fun, and maybe our forefathers would be OK with all the ways we celebrate this significant holiday. But even ole Ben Franklin, known to enjoy a good beer or two, would probably say you can salute the flag, enjoy fireworks, have a party, hit the beach, take a long vacation, just be careful.