If you were born in the U.S.A. (apologies to Bruce Springsteen), you have memories of July 4th. My favorite memories are mainly from my youth when we would celebrate the nation’s birthday and my grandfather’s birthday (July 4, 1888) with our family reunion. Aunts, uncles, cousins; it was a well-attended event and we would have a softball game or two if the weather cooperated. Many of my relatives were farmers and July 4th was a date that generally didn’t conflict with planting or harvesting a crop. A senior family member or the local pastor would say a prayer before the buffet-style lunch was available. I can’t remember an opening prayer where it wasn’t stated that we were thankful.
My opinion is that July 4th holiday activities have not changed that much for Americans. There are picnics, parades, fireworks demonstrations, and more. My family reunion is now held the weekend before July 4th so that our larger family can avoid traveling on one of the heaviest travel weeks of the summer. We usually celebrate the fourth with friends, and it’s almost always at a picnic with fireworks later in the evening.
How thankful are we today for the many freedoms that we take for granted. On a daily basis, we receive broadcasts of wars, natural disasters, politics, scandals, layoffs, etc. My grandfather and his siblings lived through many wars (Spanish-American, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War), a great depression, and many great technological innovations (automobile, electricity, airplanes, man on the moon, atomic energy and weaponry). Despite the ups and downs, they were always grateful for what they had achieved and received. I suggest that we consider the freedoms that our ancestors and subsequent generations of Americans have fought for, and whenever possible, especially on July 4th, thank those Americans who protect our freedoms today.
Happy Fourth of July!