Remember when you looked forward to the Fourth of July with excitement? There were parades! Remember the fun times at picnics and maybe some grilling of delicious food? Did you go to a special place like a park, lake or beach?
You could see children laughing and playing, while families and friends enjoyed a relaxing time to sit and talk together. In the past, we went to the Excelsior Commons to hear the orchestra play patriotic songs. In the evening, we enjoyed watching fireworks light up the sky.
Why are we celebrating the Fourth of July? History shows that our country became independent from Great Britain in 1776. The day chosen to celebrate this Independence Day was, and continues to be, July 4.
The festivities are to celebrate our freedom, our wonderful country and all the men and women who served in the past and are serving now. And we celebrate their families who also endured hardships while their loved-ones were away. It took courage and dedication and some even paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives. It’s been said, “All gave some and some gave all.”
Now, in just a few months, the world seems to have changed. We’ve seen horrible acts of violence and rioting erupt. Neighborhoods and businesses were, and are, being destroyed. Some people are angry and want to get rid of history. Yes, our country is not perfect by any means. We have things to learn to make it better.
Peter Marshall said, “May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.”
We wonder as we watch the terrible anguish and anger displayed, what can we do to make it better? We can listen, learn and make positive changes. Yet, even with the mistakes that have been made in our country’s history, we still see people trying to get in — and people are not being prevented from leaving. As we learn to work together, the future can be brighter and our forefathers and service people will know their sacrifices were not in vain.
Celebrating July Fourth is different now with events being canceled. Even when people are together in small groups, there can be concern about the safety of getting together. So, even though our country is facing tough times, what are some ways we can still celebrate July Fourth, our service people and our country?
Sometimes reliving the good times of past Fourth of July festivities can be helpful. We can focus on what we do have, rather than what we don’t have. We can still have picnics, some good food and be together with a few people. We can still listen to patriotic music such as "America the Beautiful" and others that reminds each of us this is a “land that I love.”
Another important thing we can do is live with gratitude. What are the many benefits we have here in America? We can be grateful for those who worked to form this country, protect it and not give up on it. Our forefathers were not perfect, our country isn’t perfect and we are not perfect people now. Just as we hope our children forgive us for any mistakes we may have made as they were growing up, we also hope people will forgive our forefathers and our country for mistakes they may have made during the growth of America.
Many people are thankful for family members who served or are serving our country now. My (Lynn) father, Lt. Col. Kenneth Thompson, was in the Air Force. He was shot down in the war and floated in a liferaft for three days. Friendly natives rescued and cared for him. He credits God for bringing him back safely to have a good life. I’m thankful for his survival and courageous service.
If we take time to focus on the positive things we experience in this country, we believe more people will be grateful to be Americans. Tony Robbins said, “Where focus goes, energy flows.”
Let’s be grateful for each other and show respect for the diversity of all races and creeds of fellow Americans. Let’s also care for each other as precious human beings — brothers and sisters — with a love of our country, all working together for a better tomorrow.
How about you? What does the Fourth of July mean to you? Let us know your thoughts. We hope you’ll celebrate those people, past and present, who were instrumental in forming our nation and protecting it.
Wishing you a Happy Fourth of July celebration!