Lynn and Doug Nodland

Doug and Lynn Nodland

What does the Fourth of July mean to you? What celebrations will you be having?

We remember parades where we helped our children decorate bikes and wagons and all the other activities of the holiday. Will you have a picnic or barbecue? Maybe you’ll enjoy fireworks.

In the past, we sat at the end of our dock in Excelsior watching the many boats waiting patiently to see fireworks over the water — so beautiful! Now we watch fireworks in Chanhassen and they are also a lot of fun. Many communities have celebrations so you can see fireworks displays popping up all over the skylines. There are wonderful concerts, too.

Yes, there is a lot of fun, but the real reason we celebrate each year is to commemorate the approval of the Declaration of Independence from Britain on July 4, 1776. We also honor all the people who have served to establish and protect our country. Let’s be thankful for them and thankful for our freedom every day!

Maybe you have a family member who is a veteran or is currently serving. Some people have family members who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country and our freedom. We remember and honor them. Also, we are thankful for the family members of these soldiers who endured hardships.

For me (Lynn) the Fourth of July has special meaning as I think of my father, Lt. Col. Kenneth Thompson, Ph.D., who served in the Air Force. His plane was shot down over Leyte Island, Philippines, and he and two other men floated on a life raft for three days. They found a coconut floating, broke it open and consumed it for sustenance. Finally, they were rescued by a friendly native fisherman and taken ashore.

While there, dad awoke to a man, dressed in white, standing over him. Dad asked him if he was a missionary. The man held up a bottle of whiskey and joked, “Does this look like a Bible, bud?” Dad was treated well and someone ran, through enemy territory, 48 miles in 24 hours to summon help.

Dad credits the Lord with protecting him, and after a few days the men were retrieved by our armed forces and returned to the USA. As reminders of this terrible experience, Dad had pieces of shrapnel in the back of his neck. Fortunately, he survived so he could come home to have a family, children and live a good, long life. That’s why I’m celebrating and thankful for our freedom every day.

We went to the Chanhassen Legion and talked to Eugene Roehl who served as a finance clerk in Vietnam for 13 months in 1968-1969. He shared, “I served at Long Binh, which was the headquarters in Vietnam. Every day I thanked the good Lord that I was in Long Binh, which was a very secure base.”

We asked Eugene what freedom means to him. He answered, “It means we have choices. That’s one of the things that I write down in the morning some days, that I’m thankful for freedom. We can go to the store. We can drive a car. We can go here and there. In my little world, I live a pretty reserved life. I love to go walking. I just love watching nature, that’s my thing now. America is a great country and I take great pride in that I served our country. I’m thankful for the freedom that we have and for our way of life here.” We thanked Eugene for his service.

We recognize that it takes service people doing many different activities from the front lines to support positions to keep our country safe and free and we are grateful for all service for our country.

We like this quote from Peter Marshall, “May we think of freedom not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.” Freedom is precious!

What about you? What are your plans for celebrating the Fourth of July?

Here are some thoughts: As you enjoy many of the activities of the day, we hope that you will stop to remember and honor those who served our country so we can have freedom.

If you happen to see service people and their families, take a moment to thank them. It’s also a great time to get together with family and friends so you can make holiday memories. So, enjoy the Fourth of July and let’s be thankful for our freedom every day.

Chanhassen residents, Doug and Lynn Nodland are success coaches and owners of The Balance Center. Doug and Lynn can be contacted at More information and videos at


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