I just got back to my hotel room after watching Independence Day fireworks. We’re visiting my wife’s family in Chicago, and just like the rest of the thousands of people watching this show, we had a wonderful time watching the pyrotechnic display.
It was beautiful. (That’s one of the photos we took this evening.)
But I wonder how many of these thousands of people actually reflected on the true meaning of today’s celebration.
As each firework was launched from its mortar, we heard a loud boom. Moments later, we’d see a bright light, followed by another boom as the lighted artwork filled the sky.
What ran through my mind is that we’re sitting here, in the greatest country in the world, celebrating with these huge gunshots, but 234 years ago, the bombs were real, and men who had far more guts than I ever will fought vigorously to be free from oppression in all forms — oppression of speech, of assembly, of religion, of happiness, and of prosperity.
It’s because of those men, and the brave women who fought alongside and in support of them, that we have this wonderful country we’re in.
And I think that it’s a worthwhile use of my time to remember them on this day…and to also remember the people who are fighting today for the same things. Our military personnel risk their lives fighting for our freedom, and I’m indebted to them daily.
There were a number of military personnel in the airport as we arrived here a few days ago, hopefully going home to see family. For the last several years, to each member of the military I see, and to each police officer and to every other man or woman in uniform serving our country, our states, or our cities, I say “Thank you for your service.”
They almost always say something to the effect of “I appreciate that, sir” or “It’s my honor, sir” or “Thank you for saying so, sir.”
I want them to know that their work is appreciated, and that I’m humbled by the risk they take every day for me and my family. I would not have what I have today if I lived in any other country in the world.
I don’t know where you are in your own quest for the American Dream online. I hope you’re well on your way. But even if you’re just starting out, or had a few struggles now and then, know that this country is a blessing to you, and that you wouldn’t have the opportunities you have without it.
I am truly thankful every day for what I have and for what I can achieve, for what you have and for what you can achieve, and for us both living in an environment that not only permits our prosperity, but is based upon it.
At least, that’s the way it is today.
May the United States of America remain the greatest country in the world, despite the threats it faces, both from without and within.
And may God Bless America.