This is a popular holiday for most people. For many it means a day off from work in the middle of summer. Add to that that this year it makes for a long weekend since the 4th falls on Monday. Most people have picnics or do something outdoors. Fireworks and sparklers seem to abound everywhere. The smell of grills or fires cooking steaks, hot dogs or hamburgers, sometimes spareribs or roasts makes one hungry. You might see that red ripe watermelon, seeds poking through the watery texture, lying sliced on a plate, or in a child’s hands, dripping down his face and arms. There will be hot dogs cooked on a stick, marshmallows over the fire, potato or macaroni salad on the table. Ketchup and mustard bottles wait ready to be dispensed on the meat of choice, sitting on tables covered with checkered tablecloths along with paper plates and napkins, sometimes blowing away when left without weights to hold them down. Coolers filled with pop, beer or water covered with ice slowly melting over each brightly colored can or bottle await the thirsty.
But really, the Fourth of July is Independence Day. The day the Declaration of Independence was signed giving us freedom from Great Britain’s rule.
We are so lucky to live in a free country. We have the right to vote into office people we feel and hope will do the job according to our wishes. We have the right to freedom of speech, religion, and the right to “the pursuit of happiness”.
We have many men and women who serve in the military for us so that we can maintain those rights. They also fight and serve so that people in other countries can have quality lives.
These service men and women leave behind their families and friends to defend you and me. Thank you so much for doing that.
I also want to thank all those families that wait for their loved one to return. Many of them are suffering hardships because their spouse or parent is serving his or her country. Incomes are not where they should be. Help of a spouse with household chores and raising children is not available. Many of these parents left at home struggle financially and emotionally. Imagine having your spouse overseas, not knowing whether he or she is safe, while you are home trying to do the job of both parents. That job may entail not only raising the children, but maintaining the homestead, and working to supply everyone’s needs. Does this leave much time for oneself? It doesn’t seem likely.
How do those children feel each day as they go off to school, having not had their mom or dad there to say “goodbye” or put them on the bus? Missing that parent in the evening when doing homework or saying prayers, waiting for that goodnight kiss; not having that parent around to help him or her improve how to play baseball or some other sport; needing that parent there on holidays.
To all those families who will celebrate the Fourth of July without their loved one while he or she serves in the service, I hope that you hold your heads up proudly and know that you have someone very special in your family, someone who is appreciated by many people in this country as well as in other countries.
When you see those sparklers or fireworks going off over the weekend, let each one represent a troop that is serving overseas or in our country to protect us. Let each loud boom remind you of gunshots or missiles or explosions that might be going off in another part of the world. Say a prayer for all the service men and women who strive to make the world a better place for all of us to live.
May each of you have a safe and happy Fourth of July.