What are your memories of celebrating the Fourth of July? My most vivid memories are from the years my family lived at Whiteman Air Force Base in the early 1970’s. The kids on our block gathered in our front yard to decorate our bikes with red, white and blue streamers and balloons. We paraded around our block yelling, “Happy Fourth of July!” It was fun, and it remains a sweet memory, because we did it together. No one lived near family, so we became family for each other.
My kids will remember the holiday at the grandparent’s lake house in Cuba, Missouri. Lots of food and lots of fireworks: smoke bombs, snakes, bottle rockets and parachutes to coax away from the trees. The evening sent us to the middle of the lake on the pontoon boat to watch a 360-degree firework show put on by most of the lakefront homeowners.
Independence Day, for me, is about gratitude. My upbringing as a military brat gave me a picture of what it costs individuals today, and throughout history, to establish and maintain democracy. I always imagined those threats from the outside. I now understand we have always had varying levels of threat from within our borders as well. Our system of governing ourselves is fragile. It has flaws. It requires constant change. While I am still grateful, I feel compelled more than ever to be a good citizen, an informed citizen, an involved citizen.
This Independence Day is a good time to reflect on ways we can be that kind of citizen. A good place to start is to gather information. Find something that inspires you to act, whether to support or to enact change in some way. May God use you to bless America.