The Fourth of July is always such a lively celebration. Fireworks booming in the air. The smell of cookouts all around you. The flag flying high in the sky with red, white, and blue colors on every person you pass by. The laughter of family and friends enjoying each other’s company, while celebrating the freedom that this great country has had since 1776. The Fourth of July is truly unlike any other holiday we celebrate in this country. This one specific holiday holds so much history, so much tradition, so much symbolism, and so much pride for our country.
Harry S. Truman said “America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.” Let that sink in for a second. As Americans we never waiver. We never back down from a fight. We give so much of ourselves with little in return. We are courageous. We are brave. We are strong.
When I was younger, I remember the Fourth of July celebrations we had as a family. My dad always would get a ton of fireworks and I remember watching that night sky light up so bright and being in awe of how bright and beautiful those fireworks were. I remember being on a baseball field and hearing Lee Greenwood’s song “God Bless the USA” playing over the loud speakers and everyone stopping to listen to that song. I remember the national anthem playing before we did our Fourth of July parade every year while I was a cheerleader in high school and standing with our hands over our hearts and seeing the pride every single person had while walking in that parade for three years. The Fourth of July celebrations that I had as a younger version of me will always play such an important role in how I view the Fourth of July today.
Now as an adult, and married to an Active Duty service member, my Fourth of July’s don’t look very different. The pride is still there, but flows so much deeper. The national anthem playing and seeing both of my children standing still, at such a young age, with their hands over their heart, is such a priceless feeling I don’t think I could put into words to describe. The feeling I get seeing my husband home for the Fourth of July, when I know that someday in the future he’s probably going to miss one of them, or seven, is something that can never be replaced. The time we get together on holidays such as this one, when the sacrifice is so deeply rooted in our being, is something I know my children, my husband, and myself will cherish forever.
Ronald Reagan said “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same." In all reality, our freedoms are fought for everyday by brave men and women who serve this great country near and far, stateside and abroad, and deployed to every corner of this Earth to keep their loved ones safe and sound through it all. The people who serve currently, or have served in the past have done this country a great service. They have fought battles they won’t speak of. They have done things that you cannot imagine. They felt a calling in their hearts to serve and protect their country without ever expecting a thank you from those around them. These people keep us safe without us ever really realizing that someone, somewhere, has our backs without us ever asking them to protect them like they do.
The Fourth of July symbolizes so very much; it is a celebration of freedom and a remembrance of those we lost for that freedom. I think, as Americans, we often see the liberties we have as something that has always been there, and will always be there, but there are so many out there that know that those liberties, those freedoms, that we enjoy every day were given to us because someone else paid the ultimate sacrifice for us to live the way we do. For me; that sacrifice is brought to the forefront whenever my husband mentions his Uncle Terry that fought in Vietnam and ultimately lost his life shortly before he was due to come back home. That hole in the hearts of my husband’s dad and his family is always there and will always be ever present. That sacrifice has not gone unnoticed and will never go unnoticed. His story will live on in the people who love him, the people who he has made an impact on without ever meeting Earthside, and the people who tell his story to others to shed light on the ultimate sacrifice that so many have given to this country to protect it.
This Fourth of July—I want you to stop in the midst of what seems like never-ending fun and a good kind of chaos to enjoy the moment. Soak in what it feels like to be an American on this day. Smell the smoke from the BBQ’s cooking your favorite food. Look at the colors flying high above you and the pride on every person’s piece of clothing they decide to wear on this day. Relish in the bright colors of the fireworks and what they stand for on a day like today. Believe in the power of what we have accomplished together as a great nation and what we will accomplish together in the future. Enjoy your freedoms because someone, somewhere, that you probably don’t know, is stationed on a base far away from their family not enjoying the day like you are, but standing in and waiting for an enemy to strike at any minute.
You are an American. We are Americans. Together we are strong, brave, and full of an unseen power that somehow exists in all of us that is so much greater than we know.
Today is the Fourth of July. Let freedom ring. Let everyone sing.
Being born in the USA is such a great feeling and I’m proud of what this great country has provided for me throughout the years. I wouldn’t be who I am without the freedoms and liberties granted to me by a country, and people, who have done so much to protect me. Enjoy your parades, your cookouts, your family time, and the fireworks. But don’t ever forget how this celebration symbolizes something so much bigger than blowing stuff up and yelling “America” at the top of your lungs. This Fourth of July, celebrate so big, celebrate so hard, and remember how and why you get to celebrate the way you do.
We are the land of the free because of the brave. Happy Fourth of July to everyone out there.
Photo credit: @haileywilson_photography
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