July 4th—the day we celebrate our country’s independence. Other countries around the world also have their special day of remembrance as hard-working people everywhere seek freedom to choose how they work, play, learn, and love—to act according to what they collectively believe and to help others find and follow their own paths.
We have July 4th (Independence Day); Canada Canada has July 1st (Australia Day), and Australia has January 26th (Australia Day). In each country, people celebrate liberation from the heavy yoke of tyranny and overpowering government burdens.
As Americans, each of us has our own personal memories of July 4th. I wonder what would be said if we all shared what we remember about this date. Will July 4th that greeted Americans 50 years ago? Will you look forward to this day of celebration with a warm heart and smile? Or will you consider this just another day off work and another opportunity to root out sales at the local mall and watch the game?
I feel very fortunate to have grown up when this day was important to all Americans. It was a time when people planned for and enjoyed the holiday. It was a day of parades, of streets lined with flags, floats, marching bands, patriotic songs, children standing along the street waving small American flags, and fireworks—ah yes. I remember the fireworks! It was also a day of BBQ with hot dogs, hamburgers, roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn-on-the-cob, biscuits, ice cream, and dozens of pies—apple, cherry, pumpkin, rhubarb, and more. We filled our stomachs in delight. It was a day of good feelings, family, friends, and dozens of noisy, happy kids playing outside. The warm sun smiled on us as we relaxed and enjoyed this national holiday. It was a good day.
New immigrant arrivals smiled as they waved flags and their citizenship papers standing proudly along the parade routes. They left unbearable conditions in the “Old Country” and endured a difficult, scary crossing of the ocean entering this “New World” — a world where they could enjoy a life full of hope and dreams—a life where they could work and become useful members of American society—a life where anyone could achieve—where they could get an education, a good job, raise a family, and give their children a better life than they could realize back there. They didn’t want to exploit the riches of this nation—to take but not give. They wanted to participate in making this country even better. They wanted to learn English and to be Americans in our great land. And they did.
This melting pot allowed people from all corners of the earth to unite as Americans, which generated the greatest, most productive country on the planet, for which we have cause to celebrate. July 4th continues to be a special day when we all proudly show we are Americans—all of us, together. This July 4th, let’s bring back the joy of being independent—the joy of being collectively and uniquely American—one nation under God.