Celebrating the Fourth

I can remember as a kid, when seeing the news on TV sent me scurrying out of the room.
I couldn’t understand how my parents could sit there and listen to those talking heads drone on and on about this and that. None of it affected me, so I could not have cared less.
Things are different now. I guess that means I’m becoming my parents because I find that I do care about the things those talking heads drone on about now. I check out CNN.com a few times a day just to see what’s going on in the world. I don’t linger too long, though, because it quickly gets overwhelming. There’s so much going on everywhere, and most of it’s just not good. Seeing the constant footage of the oil leaking into the ocean just breaks my heart. Watching all the red tape tangling up the solution to it frustrates me to no end. I feel helpless to do anything at all.
I find this year that July 4th has not affected me the way it once did.
I grew up a very patriotic person, and I looked forward to celebrating freedom and liberty. As a kid, I loved waving lighted sparklers. That is until it burned so closely to my fingers that I dropped it on the lawn, and my dad panicked, afraid I would set the whole yard on fire.
I grew up proud to be an American. I grew up believing that America was the greatest nation on the planet, and that God’s hand was upon her. If I am honest, my opinion is wavering just a bit.
That’s not to say that I have found anywhere any better. I haven’t. But in the past it seemed that so many other countries wanted to be us. We set the bar high, and others were scrambling to meet it. I don’t so much see that anymore. What I see is America lowering the bar and closing the gap between it and those, well, lesser countries. How much longer will the world look to us in admiration? I think heads are already turning away.
I wonder if my kids feel pride at all in their country. Do they understand what we celebrate today? Do they understand what it took to make that happen? Do I? We are a unique people, Americans. Or we used to be.
The world has become so much smaller as we are able to share information globally in milliseconds now, and it seems that it has blurred the lines between what makes America great and what makes others, well, less than great. It’s true that we are a melting pot of people here. But we are different. We are scrappers, and climbers. We are innovators and achievers. We are determined and steadfast… Aren’t we? Weren’t we? I thought we were. I hope we still are.
I know my parents probably listened to those talking heads back when I was a kid, and worried that the cold war would turn hot. That Russia might one day just launch some of those nukes right at us. When a President faced impeachment, and gas lines grew long, I’m sure they prayed hard and wondered what was becoming of America. But every year, the Fourth of July would roll around, and we’d make homemade hand-cranked peach ice cream, cut a watermelon, and go see the fireworks with friends. We’d celebrate all that still made America great.
So that’s what I’m going to do.
I’m going to celebrate the freedom that wasn’t free, eat some ice cream, go see the fireworks with family and friends, and try to hold onto a sparkler until it burns out. Then at the end of the day, I’m going to pray for God’s hand to stay firmly on this still young country, that His grace and mercy will cover a multitude of sins, faux pas, and foolishness, and that our leaders will honor all that was sacrificed for the freedom we take for granted most days.

One thought on “Celebrating the Fourth

  1. Things are uncertain these days. But thankfully I can trust in a God who is present all the time. It allows me to celebrate our freedom here in the good ‘ol USA because I have real freedom in Christ. For us today it was hotdogs, potato salad, and all kinds of sweet goodies– and fireworks off the back deck! God bless the USA!

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