I consider myself a patriotic person, but you won’t find me doing the typical July fourth activities. I live in Houston, where it is usually horribly hot and humid, even after dark when the fireworks start. I am also not a fan of large crowds and traffic, two other factors I associate with most Independence Day activities.
However, sometime on that day I will hear Lee Greenwood’s words and will get teary eyed. The chorus of God Bless the USA begins:
And 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….
It amazes me when I think about what those words are actually saying. Lives were lost to protect many of things I take for granted- rights and a way of life I haven’t had to personally sacrifice much for. I can worship God however I choose. I can express my opinion without fear of arrest. I had access to a free education. I live in place that is safe for my family and if I get sick I have access to some of the best healthcare in the world. An argument could perhaps be made that there are people in this country who can’t claim those same privileges, but I am speaking here only of myself. It fills me with incredible awe to realize just how lucky I am.
I think it is especially present in my thoughts this Independence Day, as a close coworker and friend is on the last step on the long path to becoming a United States citizen. She has shared the stories of the vast corruption in her home nation that leaves many of its citizens destitute, family members who do without basic medical care, Christians who fear assault or death for merely practicing their faith, and nights spent without electricity and other basic needs. Again- It fills me with incredible awe to realize just how lucky I am.
So, no, you won’t see me out at a picnic or parade this July 4. I won’t be playing with sparklers or watching other fireworks that evening. However, I will be celebrating in my heart the birth of this incredible nation that I am proud and extremely grateful to call my home.