Today is Independence Day, and perhaps the best way to truly understand what this day means is to try to imagine what our lives would be like without the freedoms that we celebrate.
What if the Declaration of Independence had not been adopted on July 4, 1776? What would our world be like if representatives of the 13 colonies had not risked their lives to form a free nation, to break free from the rule of England?
Consider, for a moment, a world in which these words had never been written:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
Imagine a world without the Stars and Stripes, Old Glory, that famous flag that could be seen in the flashes of light from rockets and bombs on that long ago night described so well in “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Or, what if later patriots had not be as dedicated to the cause of freedom as they were, what if they had not been willing to put their lives on the line to fight in the face of overwhelming odds? What nation’s rule would we be under today — what despot would have dominion over our families?
What flag would be flying overhead right now?
The path to freedom was not easy, and the price of freedom was not cheap. Patriots fought and died to win our independence, and brave men and women continue to pay the price of preserving that freedom today.
When you gather for your Fourth of July activities, perhaps you’ll hear or join in singing one of the many patriotic songs that are such a big part of Independence Day celebrations every year — “America the Beautiful,” “God Bless America” or another popular tune. If so, pay attention to the words as the music soars, hear the meaning and feel the spirit that went into the writing of those words.
Yes, today is a day when we plan plenty of family fun. It is a time to gather for reunions, to enjoy sports and to dine on hot dogs and other traditional summer dishes.
It is a day to display the Red, White and Blue and feel the swell of pride that comes when we join in a patriotic parade, stand for the Pledge of Allegiance or remove our caps for the national anthem before the first pitch.
As we prepare to celebrate this Independence Day, before we join family and friends for backyard barbecues, concerts, picnics, fireworks shows and all the other activities that routinely mark the holiday, let us pause to remember and reflect. Let us give thanks for the sacrifices and service of those who have made it possible.
Fly your flag today and reaffirm your commitment to the liberty and freedom that have made this nation great.
Happy Independence Day.