The photos below depict a large part of why I celebrate the Fourth of July. It is not about the fireworks. It isn’t simply about having a day off as a holiday. It goes far deeper than that. I celebrate the Fourth of July because I love my country. I am proud to be an American, specifically a US American. I am not ashamed to wave the USA flag and sing the old songs of liberty and freedom. When I consider the price that my fellow citizens have paid so that I may worship and live in freedom in this great nation, I am proud. Not in a haughty or arrogant way. No. Not in a condescending way toward other great nations, whether they be affluent or poor. Of course not. I am proud of the USA because this nation has given its sons and daughters over and over again not only to procure and sustain our own freedom, but also to liberate the oppressed all around the world. I am proud of the USA because of our long tradition of opening our arms to the huddled masses teeming at our shores, seeking respite from lives of destitution and tyranny.
On a personal note, I am proud because three of my ancestors on my mother’s side of the family, the Livingstons, signed the Declaration of Independence. Many other ancestors served in the military and also in pioneer ministry and scholarship. I am particularly proud of my grandfather on my dad’s side who fought in the south pacific in WWII and of my Uncle Carl, my mom’s brother, who fought in WWII in the European theater. But most of all, I am proud of my father. He was drafted at the end of the Korean War. He had been given notice to go to Korea, but the military granted him an honorable hardship discharge at the last minute. There is a story behind these events. Someday I might tell it.
Today I simply say, “Thank you, Dad. For your service. For your guidance. For the legacy you have left me and the rest of the family. The tears I shed as I visited your gravesite today were painful, but they were not without hope. They were sad, but they were not without pride in the service you gave the USA and your family. They were poignant, but only because I tarried to remember. Yes, so much to remember. Thank you.”