Monday, July 4, 2016

Independence, Today and Every Day

I've spent some time this week-end thinking about all the different ways I've celebrated Independence Day in the past.

I have often been visiting family in the D.C. area--that's one of my favorite ways to celebrate.  Once, long ago, in 1985, my dad and I went down to the Mall and stayed for the fireworks.  My mom and sister were at a Lutheran youth gathering, and my dad and I went by way of Metro.  The Beach Boys played a concert, and the fireworks were grand.  But boy, were we hot, dirty, and tired by the time we got back home to the Virginia suburbs.

In later years, we've been on a sailboat--that's a wonderful way to celebrate too, out on the Chesapeake with various municipal fireworks displays on view.

We've spent Independence Days with friends, some of them resident aliens from other countries--that, too, provides an interesting point of view.  We've also spent some Independence Days alone, just the two of us as a couple.  I remember one year in a different house climbing up a ladder onto our roof so that we could see the fireworks 3 miles away at the beach. 

No matter where I am, I try to think about the Declaration of Independence--what an amazing document.  I try to think about what those men tried to accomplish--how far we have come, how close we are to those goals, how we've surpassed them, the progress we still have to make.  I think about people in our country who still suffer all sorts of oppression.  In the early part of this century, a commentator said that it's never been easier to own a slave, and he was talking about our country too.

I also think about people across the globe who struggle to achieve the kinds of freedoms that so many of us in industrialized nations take for granted.  It's a cliché, to be sure, but it's important to remember.

History reminds us that those liberties can fairly easily be taken away, and most of us will never blink an eye--at least until it's too late.  We live in precarious times--perhaps we always live in precarious times, but I'm more aware of it this year, with terrorist actions and the Brexit vote.

But let me not get bogged down in fears.  Instead, let me be inspired by those men who signed the Declaration of Independence on this day in 1776.  They pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, so great was their belief in what they were doing.  It's a good day to think about our commitments, our values, what we hold most true.

Of course, it's always a good day to do that--let me always be trying to live a life that's in sync with my truest values.  Let me always be ready to stake my sacred honor on principles that are that important.

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