This is indeed a great holiday.
From watching the magnificence of fireworks exploding over head to the simple pleasure of biting into a hot dog fresh off the grill, we all seem united for at least one day of the year in a pride in all things American. We sing patriotic songs, proudly wear the colors that symbolize our nation and generally just get along with one another for at least that one grand day of the year.
It is indeed good to be an American.
We are reminded often this time of year of the great bravery and leadership shown by our forefathers when they signed the Declaration of Independence and stood gallantly together to right what they felt was an incredible wrong. We hear about how they defiantly risked their lives to scrape, claw and fight for freedom for all within the colonies. They spoke often of God’s will, and one could sense that they felt they were on a divine mission that must be completed, regardless the consequences.
I was watching a program on the History Channel the other night on this very subject. One part that grabbed my attention was the six-year struggle by several committees to come up with the Great Seal of the United States. Benjamin Franklin submitted an idea of a depiction of God interceding to part the Red Sea. His motto was “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.”
It was certainly powerful, but shot down by all — well, all, but Thomas Jefferson, who took the motto as his own personal trademark for years.
Regardless, we revel in the courage and determination of our forefathers every Independence Day, and take a moment or two to mentally thank them for what they did. They stepped out against tyranny and inequality, and risked their lives to create a new world, with a new way of doing things.
But I sometime struggle inside with how far away we’ve gotten from the way in which our nation was established. This was intended to be a nation of free will — where individual choice carried more weight than governmental rule, and where our leadership was designed to carry out the will of the people.
This was to be a nation of independence. A nation where each individual’s vote carried the same weight, and where the government was to be as minimalistic as possible. Don’t get me wrong. I love this nation with every fiber of my being, volunteered as a young man to defend our borders and way of life and still get upset with people who constantly complain about how terrible this nation is today. It is still the greatest nation in the world, and we should still be what other nations look to as a model of democracy.
I just wish the government was a little smaller and less obtrusive. And, honestly, that’s part of what makes this nation as great as it truly is — I can say that without fear of unmarked black helicopters landing in my front yard or masked men storming the Coastal Point multiplex.
Well, there was that one time. But that had more to do with Shaun Lambert trying to hack into...
But I digress.
There is still much to love about this nation, and still so much to admire. We have legislators and senators who do care — who will scream into the night against injustice and battle tirelessly to improve our general quality of life. We have millions of volunteers who work anonymously behind the scenes to help with disease, poverty and their own communities.
And we have brave men and women overseas who are risking their lives and badly missing their families to help make the world a better place.
Oh, I’ve heard the critics.
“They’re not protecting the American way of life. They’re serving our oil interests.”
You’re wrong. Those men and women who honor us with their service in the armed forces have no interest in oil. They follow orders, perform incredibly well and lend a hand wherever and whenever needed. Say what you want about past or current members of our administration, the men and women overseas are doing what they are told, and they do it in a manner that should make us proud.
They believe they are helping spread democracy throughout the world, and because of that belief, they are. We ask what has happened to the true patriots of this nation, and I argue that they are still in abundance.
And they are serving proudly and with honor.
I ask all of you to remember those who are overseas this July 4th, and maybe say a little prayer for their safe return home. They risk their lives for this nation, and that is what this holiday is all about.