Fourth of July
The American holiday has its traditions, just the same as Thanksgiving or Christmas. The summertime holiday is celebrated in a multitude of various ways, each as individual as the family or person celebrating. For some it means traveling, for some it is swimming and picnics and parties, boats on a lake or tubes on a river. It means grilled hamburgers or hotdogs, barbequed ribs, fried chicken, potato salad, fresh summer grown tomatoes, and homemade apple pie. It is a vine ripened watermelon. It is a time of sparklers waved by children’s hands, firecrackers lit and thrown to snap and pop, and fireworks to light up the night’s sky with colors and designs set to orchestrations that stir our hearts and embolden our spirits.
According to an MSN internet article, it is possible that Americans will spend in the range of $3 billion on parties, food, entertainment and travel this year. However, those are celebrations of food and fun and fireworks are just one part of this holiday. For the Fourth of July is, in fact, actually Independence Day and the meaning of that holiday goes a lot deeper.
Independence Day is about patriotism. It is a declaration of believing in something wholeheartedly, supporting it no matter what, loving it completely. America's Independence Day is believing in this country and the freedoms possible within it were and are so worthwhile that men and women have fought and died to make it possible both then and now.
Independence isn’t simply a right American’s have due to the actions of our forefathers. It is something that is earned and we have a responsibility to it. We have a responsibility to each be patriots. This doesn’t mean that we must all be members of America’s Armed Forces, fighting at home and abroad to keep our country safe from those who would destroy it, in order to be patriots. However, it does mean that we as individuals can and should take up the flag of patriotism, the ideals of those soldiers who fight for us, and we should keep them alive within ourselves.
Patriotism begins at home … as parents raise up their children – teaching them right from wrong, disciplining when needed, and loving them always. Imagine our nation if parents cared more that their children become strong, not strong-willed, independent and beautiful of spirit, not rebellious and self-absorbed … that they raised the child as someONE, not someTHING … as an individual rather than a friend or a way to relive a youth that didn’t go as they wanted … supporting and trusting them, even as they falter and mistakes are made, instead of ignoring them, tearing them down, or striking out in anger.
Patriotism should continue in our schools … with those teachers that we entrust with our children, to teach them more than just the basic ABCs & 123s but also history and English and science and geography, instilling a thirst for more knowledge and guiding them always. Imagine our nation if teachers didn’t have to worry about guns in the classrooms and how to make 20 textbooks work for 30 children but could get into the meat of a topic instead of skimming it over the outline of facts. Teachers should inspire and guide as they teach and students should be able to become creative and achieve more than they dream.
Strength of morals, not to mention honesty and respect … we’re not born with these values, we are taught them (or, unfortunately, not) from our earliest moments. With them comes gratitude … having an appreciation for the history of our nation, not to mention the men and women, past and present, who have worn a uniform in service and honor to our country. These men and women were raised as patriots and we should be not only be aware of their deeds – again, past or present – but give them our thanks, as we each work to be patriots in our own right, in our own homes and communities.
I know I do, and I will.
While I wave my flag, eat my pie and sit out on the grass, listening to the music and wondering at the beauty of those flashes of color sparkling in the sky.
And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.
And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.
And I gladly stand up, next to you and defend her still today.
Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
GOD BLESS THE USA!**
(**lyrics from Proud To Be An American by Lee Greenwood)