Remember the meaning of the Fourth - The Explorer: Editorials

Remember the meaning of the Fourth

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Posted: Tuesday, July 1, 2008 11:00 pm | Updated: 8:02 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

As a kid, the Fourth of July was a big deal not only because of the food and celebrations, but also because people spent time talking about our country, how proud they were to be Americans and the meaning of freedom.

Today there seems to be a fake celebration of this holiday, merely another excuse to eat too much junk food, and watch some overpriced fireworks made in China. It can be a fun holiday, particularly for kids, but I think it’s time we take a closer look at the reason we celebrate this holiday.

As you’ve aged, have your feelings changed about what it means to be an American and what our country, in general, means to you? Can you state your feelings clearly and confidently, or are you somewhat unsure about things overall? Please put these questions aside and consider them later, but without political overtones. We’ve seen enough presidential candidate debates over the past several months to last a lifetime, so quietly ponder your feelings at your convenience.

For now, I’ll share my perception about the way we currently celebrate July 4th or Independence Day. It’s merely another three-day weekend, a break from the rat race of work, and an opportunity to overindulge in whatever food or activity we choose. Am I missing something here, or have we forgotten about the Declaration of Independence? The short answer is probably yes, even with flags waving and fireworks displays going off after sunset in nearly every town in America. The fact is it should be a somber remembrance of those who died to protect our country and a focused celebration of the independence we’ve had for 232 years.

A bit of history: The first holiday was observed on July 8, 1776 in Philadelphia. The following year, it was celebrated on July 4th and eventually evolved into America’s birthday. Congress declared it a legal holiday in 1941. The American flag is the third oldest of all the national standards of the world, and it embodies the essence of patriotism and the spirit of the American nation; its history is a reflection of the history of the American people —freedom and independence.

Maybe this year we need to celebrate our freedom and reflect on those who are defending and preserving it for us today. Let’s use this day to realize that we are Americans and what it means to be an American.

We’ve become accustomed and somewhat complacent about freedom; we often forget that for some people in the world, freedom either doesn’t exist or is a luxury enjoyed by those of wealth and privilege.

I believe America remains the greatest country in the world and offers those who enter it legally an endless array of options and opportunities. If this weren’t so, we wouldn’t continue attracting so many people from around the world.

There are some who believe America owes them something, but I think it’s about each of us taking the initiative to make our lives better if we choose to do so.

For me, being an American means that, in general, I control my own destiny. I can choose a path to success or do nothing; it’s truly about having a choice. I also believe people will continue to sacrifice for this freedom.

Let us always remember how precious our independence truly is and that July 4th will always be a day that matters to all Americans.

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