July 4, 2018, marks America’s 243rd birthday. We were brought into birth with the courage, sacrifice, and strokes of the pen of 56 founding fathers, many who ended up giving their lives and fortunes to the cause. Today Americans heartily celebrate the red, white, and blue anniversary with fireworks, food, and freedom.
The Fourth of July, also known as Independence Day, has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941. But the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution (1775-83). In June 1776, representatives of the 13 colonies then fighting in the revolutionary struggle debated a resolution that would declare their independence from Great Britain. On July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later its delegates officially adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. From 1776 until the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence. Some communities have parades, and virtually everyone celebrates with fireworks, food, and freedom.
Almost 70% of Americans own an American flag. On the fireworks end, we use almost 286 million pounds of fireworks, with by far the majority of those being personal fireworks dsplays.
On the food end, we eat 155 million hotdogs! About 65% of Americans will participate in a barbeque or picnic. On July 4, 1776, General George Washington ordered double portions of grub be given to the American soldiers. We’ve been following his example ever since!
Celebrating our freedom with freedom means we all have the liberty to do what we want to do. Most everyone gets some sort of a July 4th holiday from work during freedom week, we travel anywhere we wish to go inside or outside the country, and we do just about anything we wish to do.
For the last several years I have noted the political chaos and upheaval our country has been in. Unfortunately, each year we seem to be tumbling further away from what I believe our forefathers understood as Independence. Independence does not mean we are free to do whatever we want and not care about the impact of our actions on others. Freedom doesn’t mean we fight constantly. Leaders and ordinary citizens like trying to outshout each other; trying to get to the top of the heap and declared right. Many of us refuse to listen to each other, and our political associations become more dear to us than the fact that we are all Americans. If we don’t agree with each other, we are enemies. There is only right or wrong . . . nothing in between.
We live in an amazing country. We are free to speak our minds and not be thrown in jail for our thoughts. But freedom and independence must be accompanied by responsibility. We can disagree with policy, but we must behave with respect. Our forefathers gave us an amazing gift. Many of us forget that in other countries you are guilty until proven innocent. In other places you can be arrested and held for little if any reason. Protesters are jailed and your opinions or vote don’t matter.Your services depend entirely on your ability to pay. We often take our freedoms for granted.
I am very proud and grateful to be an American. We are not the only great place on this planet, but in my perspective, we are the most blessed. This remains a wonderful country filled with a lot of people who do so much good. We have untold privileges and opportunities. God has been and remains very good to us.
My hope this 4th of July is that we all stop to appreciate our freedoms and spend some time talking to the God who knows what we can and should be in our world of great needs. I would also hope and pray that we all begin to think about how we can work together to solve problems and be a part of the solution. We can respect each other, we can listen, and we can develop and promote respect and dignity for all, along with life and liberty. Jesus was the first to say, “United we stand, divided we fall.” It has never been more true than on this July 4, 2018.
God bless the U.S.A. and help us be a blessing. Happy 4th!