(I originally published this last 4th of July, but it bears remembering again on this 4th of July.)
The 4th of July is a uniquely American tradition. In every village, town or city, flags will wave, we will wear red, white and blue, enjoy parades, fairs and fireworks–all to celebrate our independence, our freedoms and our way of life. Frail old men will proudly don their old but well-preserved military uniforms on that day, and either walk or ride in wheelchairs or cars in an honored place on the parade routes.
Those of us who are old enough remember that in elementary school we bowed our heads to say the Lord’s Prayer, then stood to recite the Pledge of Allegiance with right hands over hearts. If we as girl and boy scouts were in the town parade, we knew never to allow the American flag to touch the ground. These traditions were things we didn’t question; they were part of our lives.
We may have come a long way in technology, education, research, medicine (I still remember when doctors made house calls), but these uniquely American traditions are part of our history. With so many wars and battles behind us, it is easy to become complacent, secure in the knowledge that we are Americans, and our way of life is extraordinarily good. Horrors such as September 11, 2001, the war in Iraq [and these days, the ever-present ISIS attacks all over the world,including America] and so much more are reminders that we cannot stop being vigilant, and that our freedoms were and are still paid for in blood.
So on the 4th of July let’s spend a moment or two during our barbeques, parades and fireworks to remember why it is we celebrate. The rest of the world may look on us with a combination of derision, disapproval and/or even hatred, but we continue to roll on. True, we have our faults. We are still a relatively young nation; we do not have the history, grandeur or background of so many other older countries.
But what we DO have is incredibly good, dear and precious. Our country was founded on principles and standards that we must not forget. We stand on the shoulders of hundreds of thousands who suffered and sacrificed for the freedoms we enjoy today. If we cannot agree with what our forefathers set down as laws to run this nation, let us at least be respectful of them.
On the 4th of July, please let’s take a moment to put our right hands over our hearts, remember and be in gratitude.