Flag, Freedom, "Fourth", Food, family, friends, and FIREWORKS! These 7 "F"'s easily describe on of the most celebrated holidays of our nation, besides Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Yes, in the the great words of John Adams, the Fourth of July "...ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other...".
Why shouldn't it? This day defines everything that our country was founded on and should be.
What some of us tend to forget though is why we celebrate this very important day in midst of all of the festivities, singing to our "Old Glory', and (gasp!) cursing at traffic and making a mad dash to be the first to take advantage of those department store sales.
This day, every year, I am reminded of the speech written by Ronald Reagan in 1981. The purpose of sharing this piece is not to start a political debate, it's simply the words that I wanted to share.
"For one who was born and grew up in the small towns of the Midwest, there is a special kind of nostalgia about the Fourth of July.
Somewhere in our [youth], we began to be aware of the meaning of [important national] days and with that awareness came the birth of patriotism. July Fourth is the birthday of our nation. I believed as a boy, and believe even more today, that it is the birthday of the greatest nation on earth.
The day of our nation's birth in that little hall in Philadelphia, [was] a day on which debate had raged for hours. The men gathered there were honorable men hard-pressed by a king who had flouted the very laws they were willing to obey. Even so, to sign the Declaration of Independence was such an irretrievable act that the walls resounded with the words "treason, the gallows, the headsman's axe," and the issue remained in doubt.
[On that day] 56 men, a little band so unique we have never seen their like since, had pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. Some gave their lives in the war that followed, most gave their fortunes, and all preserved their sacred honor.
What manner of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists, eleven were merchants and tradesmen, and nine were farmers. They were soft-spoken men of means and education; they were not an unwashed rabble. They had achieved security but valued freedom more. Their stories have not been told nearly enough.
John Hart was driven from the side of his desperately ill wife. For more than a year he lived in the forest and in caves before he returned to find his wife dead, his children vanished, his property destroyed. He died of exhaustion and a broken heart.
Carter Braxton of Virginia lost all his ships, sold his home to pay his debts, and died in rags. And so it was with Ellery, Clymer, Hall, Walton, Gwinnett, Rutledge, Morris, Livingston and Middleton. Nelson personally urged Washington to fire on his home and destroy it when it became the headquarters for General Cornwallis. Nelson died bankrupt.
But they sired a nation that grew from sea to shining sea. Five million farms, quiet villages, cities that never sleep, three million square miles of forest, field, mountain and desert, 227 million people with a pedigree that includes the bloodlines of all the world. In recent years, however, I've come to think of that day as more than just the birthday of a nation.
It also commemorates the only true philosophical revolution in all history.
Oh, there have been revolutions before and since ours. But those revolutions simply exchanged one set of rules for another. Ours was a revolution that changed the very concept of government.
Let the Fourth of July always be a reminder that here in this land, for the first time, it was decided that man is born with certain God-given rights; that government is only a convenience created and managed by the people, with no powers of its own except those voluntarily granted to it by the people.
We sometimes forget that great truth, and we never should." - Ronald Reagan, July 4th, 1981
Now don't get mean wrong, I feel truly blessed to live in a country that were founded upon the principles of our unalienable rights, which are "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness".
Many men, women, and children have died in the course of our nations history to defend our personal freedoms. I will be forever thankful for that.
Today let us remind ourselves what the celebrations of today symbolize and why they are so important. Have fun, stay safe, and enjoy that beautifully lit sky!