Happy 4th of July! I have grown to appreciate this celebration. It is more than independence from the rule of another nation. Wrapped up in the meaning is pride in my country and my fellow countrymen. I do remember when I understood or began to understand the love I have for America. While living in England with my family in the 1970s, there were two holidays that suddenly didn’t have an significance to my new “home”–4th of July and Thanksgiving. Well, of course, why would the British claim either of those for national recognition.
I laugh now, but as a child I questioned why everyone didn’t think the 4th of July deserved fireworks, hamburgers, and watermelon. Try asking your British friends where they celebrate. So, my parents explained the history to me, again, and quickly found an American group of patriots living in our area. We cooked out, played games, talked about the United States while respecting the country where we were temporarily living.
I’ve traveled to many countries since that time. Each time I am thankful to set foot on American soil, no offense to any nation or nationality. Yet, I am American and ever so thankful. To me, it is not about politics or benefits, but about freedom, respect, and pride. The nation is not perfect because we as individuals are not perfect, but as long as we continue to make strides toward making our world better then there is hope for all of us.
After lots of research on the American Revolution era (about 45 resources), I’ve tried to determine what it would have been like to live in those troubling years of 1760-1785, more or less. The authoress of Charleston, Mrs. St. Julien Ravenel, worded the struggle about fighting this way: “To understand the hesitation we must remember that many of these men had once fought as Englishmen; and not without a pang of heart, even under deepest provocation, do men fire upon the flag which once was theirs.” War is difficult enough against strangers, but against one’s own relatives and citizens it had to be devastating and soul-wrenching.
The Revolution era gave flags like “Join or Die”–Benjamin Franklin and “Don’t Tread on Me”–Christopher Gadsden. For decades the colonists wanted representation and reconciliation. It wasn’t until there seemed to be no other way that separation was an option. The price for unity and forming a new nation was costly in lives, in standard of living, in ties to the rest of the world, in relationships, finances, and historical precedent.
I’m thankful and respectful of the tough, forever changed, challenging decisions the nation’s designers had to make. Today, I will remember the beginning in order to face the future.
How are you celebrating the 4th? Do you have memories that formulated your understanding of this celebration?