“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” -Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address
Independence Day. The day of barbecues, baseball, pool parties, and fireworks. The day people hang the American flag on the front porch (although we have a flag raised in front of our house almost daily.) The day the United States of America declared its independence. Our nation’s birthday.
Those famous words written by Thomas Jefferson in 1776, “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,” still hold true today. The life, liberty, and freedoms we posses today were made possible by our founding fathers and held together by our democratic government and the brave men and women of our armed forces.
Now, I know our nation isn’t perfect. What nation is? Many people complain about the government, taxes, the state of education, health care, the military, etc… But when you think about where we started as a nation, we have come a long way. “All men are created equal.” Thomas Jefferson said it. Abraham Lincoln said it. Martin Luther King Jr. lived and died for it. Our military fights to defend it. Our nation was founded on those words, and to this day Americans have the freedom to live life and pursue happiness because of those words.
I had the incredible experience last summer to stand in the exact location where Abraham Lincoln gave his famous speech. It was moving, to say the least. Standing in the Gettysburg National Cemetery, looking over the battlefield, and thinking about all of those men who sacrificed their lives to keep our great nation united, gave me chills. Those men believed in the unity of our nation, they believed in the flag and the freedom it represented, and they “gave their lives” to defend it so “that nation might live.”
Our military men and women make sacrifices daily. They are brave individuals who are willing to pay the ultimate price to defend our flag and the country it stands for. My husband served in the U.S. Army, the 82nd Airborne division to be exact. He served in Desert Storm, Desert Shield, and the Panama Invasion. Luckily, he didn’t have to pay the ultimate sacrifice. Other military men and women are not so lucky. But it is because of their sacrifice that we continue to live in a country that allows us the opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In the words of Lincoln, “never forget what they did [and] highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.”
Independence Day is the day to celebrate the Declaration of Independence and the freedom it provided. It’s a day to reflect on the work this nation still has to do to ensure that all men are created equal. I, for one, am proud to live in this country. I’m proud to fly the U.S. flag. I stand with my hand on my heart and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. I stand and pay respect during the presentation of the colors. I proudly sing the National Anthem.
I stand up as you’re waving in flight,
With your stripes so bold
And your stars so bright.
As you rise and flash your red, white, and blue,
You’re the symbol of freedom,
I stand up for you.
In the words of Lee Geenwood’s song , God Bless the USA, “I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me. And I’d gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today. ‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land. God bless the USA.”
Happy 4th of July, America! Celebrate with your families. Eat hot dogs, watch baseball, and enjoy fireworks, but please do not forget the meaning of Independence Day. Today we celebrate the Declaration of Independence, not only for what it accomplished, but for what it still challenges us to do. I am proud to be an American, proud to fly the flag, proud to live in this great country of ours, a country “of the people, by the people, for the people,” and we “shall not perish from this earth.”