July 4th, Independence Day for the United States, brings out so many emotions.  In my family it has been surrounded by patriotic pride.  My step-father was a Pearl Harbor Survivor in addition to many other battles in the Japanese theatre of World War II.   My son-in-law lost a leg fighting in Iraq.  And our family has always recognized that the life of choice and freedom we live in this country is tightly tied to the willing sacrifice of our soldiers and their families to protect the life and opportunities we enjoy.  And Independence Day recognizes our founders who stepped out in faith to declare independence for this nation knowing the great personal peril that accompanied that choice.  They set the tone for a nation that recognizes freedom and strives to help others in the world through our abundance.   That declaration started a nation that enjoys many freedoms, but we must also never forget the price that has been paid and will continue to be paid to maintain those freedoms.

So we celebrate by recognizing our patriotic pride and relishing the time the holiday allows us to be with family.  Picnics with grilled food and playing corn toss in the front yard.  Neighbors coming together and enjoying one another’s company.  Kids playing in sprinklers and kiddie pools.  Pulling out guitars (or now my guitar AND my ukulele!) to sing songs together.  It is a time to relax, connect, be with family, be with extended family, and enjoy and appreciate the life and freedom we have.  We are richly blessed in this nation with freedoms many other countries only dream about:  freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and even the freedom to openly disagree and protest our government.  We must not take for granted how special this is, and continue to work towards extending those freedoms to all people.

Over 240 years ago some very special people decided to step up, declare independence for this nation, and then were willing to fight to defend that choice.  I for one am happy that they did, and try to live a life now to honor the sacrifices made to bring us to this point.  So I hope you enjoy the time off, I hope you enjoy some relaxing and fun family time, and mostly I hope you take a moment to reflect on what the holiday means to appreciate this great nation in which we live!