Tuesday, July 3, 2007
IT'S INDEPENDENCE DAY!
Some weeks ago, I was out and about town doing errands when the hunger Monster struck in the back seat. Poor little starving urchins that they were, I agreed to pull into the Wendy's drive-thru for the oh-so-healthy chicken nuggets and chocolate milk. When I got up to the window, the gal at the register said, "that will be $17.76." I smiled and replied, "hey, that was a GOOD year!". Blank stare in response. I went on, "you know, July 4th? 1776? Declaration of Independence?" She was obviously embarrassed and said, "I'm sorry; I just didn't know that. Guess I didn't learn much." As I pulled away from the window, I felt so SAD; not a 'snooty' kind of 'holier than thou' SAD; just that sadness that comes from the realization that education is so lacking these days. How can we know where we're headed if we don't understand where we've been? And how SAD that any American, working class girl or not, should miss out on the amazing story that surrounds the birth of our great nation! My kids have been studying about the Revolutionary War and right now are in the 'fact' stage of taking in all this information. Still, I try not to ever miss an opportunity to stress to them the beautiful gift that is our freedom.
Last week, we took a multi-generational Family Vacation to the Washington, D.C. area, as well as over to Gettysburg, PA. How many kids can say they toured great pieces of American history with their parents, grandparents, and Great-grandparents?!? I know this will be a treasured memory for them someday. As I endeavored to prepare them for many of the sights that we would see, particularly in Arlington Cemetery with the Changing of the Tomb Guard, etc., I saw a little bit of perplexity (is that a word?) on their faces. I can't remember which one said it first, but the question was asked, "Mommy if we won our freedom (referring to their study of the Revolutionary War), then why did all these people have to keep fighting?" I cannot begin to tell you the lump that formed in my throat! So simple a question, and yet so profound! YES! We won our freedom, but it is a fight that will never stop being fought. Our fore-fathers gave us the gift, but it is a gift that must ever be contended for, continually guarded and protected from an enemy that surely would seek to take it from us. As we looked out over those some 450,000 simple white stones of Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen, Nurses, Justices, and so many more, I was reminded once again of the incredible sacrifice that has been and continues to be paid. I salute them all and I honor them on this Independence Day. How honored we were to have my Papaw, Korean War Purple Heart Veteran, along with us for this trip and to see the seriousness with which he took it all in. He gave a leg in the struggle for freedom in Korea and still the flag flies high in front of his home. No bitterness, only pride. I am so thankful that he has passed that pride on down to future generations.
So today I say with renewed appreciation: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AMERICA!
The day after the Declaration was signed in 1776, John Adams, wrote these words in a letter to his wife, Abigail. "I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by Solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this continent to the other from this Time forward forevermore."
Was he right or what?!? Well, I have SO much more I could say about our trip, but I think I'll put that off for now and just leave you with some pics. May your July 4th Celebrations be marked with renewed gratitude for the gift of FREEDOM that is ours!