Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The 4th of July

Year 5 - Day 185: Today, I am grateful for the 4th of July. Happy 241st Birthday, USA.

It is the birthday of our nation. Our forefathers came in different ways and under a variety of circumstances. Most of them were difficult. Very few came with ample resources, those who did discovered that this was no place for anyone not willing to work.

Many of the first came seeking a safe place to worship God. Each group had different ways and different rules for their expressions of faith, and they wanted a land where they were free to pray, say what they believed and build communities that reflected their beliefs without persecution. 

When the founding fathers came together... they came from different places. Each one had denominational tenets that were important to them as communities and individuals and business interests. They arrived representing their community, but their personal convictions came along to keep it interesting.

The Declaration of Independence is a powerful little piece of literature. Thanks to Saturday morning's SchoolHouse Rock and Miss Sharon Wahl... I can still write and sing the Preamble. Many of us sang it to ourselves as we wrote it as part of our 8th grade Constitution requirements in 1978-79. The words are etched deeply into our memories and in our little community, we were... and still are patriots.

We grew up knowing the void left at the high price of freedom. Relatives lost in the WW1,WW2, Korea and Vietnam... family we never met or lost to war.   

My Dad served between wars in the Army and my Uncle Mel in Japan during the Korean War, but I had schoolmates whose fathers endured Vietnam. Soldiers who were obedient to their leaders, but publically criticized and disrespected. Some of the bravest and most valiant men I have ever known served there. Most do not talk about it. 

A few soldiers found love far from home and returned with brides and children from Vietnam. I will always be grateful that alphabetical order meant Lindgren and Luong would be locker neighbors for all of my Jr. High and High School days. In fact, tucked between farm boy Evan Lemenager and Buck Luong meant I started and ended every day with kindness, impeccable manners and smiles, no matter what happened the rest of the school day. My sister found one of her best friends in Buck's sister, Ba. I never thought about their "story" when I was growing up. I was just glad they were there... and our friends. 

Yesterday was the anniversary of the death of a school mate's son. On July 3, 2002. Grant Yonka died at 21 years of age while serving in the US Army. My heart aches for this Dad and the family that feels the hole. If Grant was anything like his dad, Andy,... and I imagine he was... he had a giant heart, loved well and made people laugh when things got tense. The loss to his unit, to his family and friends is still felt. Never forgotten. 

Young men and women are still in danger every day to protect freedom and stand for those with no voice. Military men and women helping, holding, carrying and comforting widows and orphans... serving "the least of these" in places where violence erupts daily. They are help and hope. They put the lives of others before their own. We can cover them in prayer as they serve and protect. 

"We the people"... all the people... make up the fabric of this great land we call the United States of America. There is a beauty and richness that comes from the diversity as countless cultures came together. Actually, collided might be a better word. The "melting pot" as it is called, but melting is easier said than done. Preservation of the flavors of our uniqueness in our differences, but coming together as one family as Americans. It is who we are when we are at our best... "We the people..."

Whatever our roots... we are... together... the United States of America. Diversely beautiful and collectively stronger when we hold hands. 

We love baseball, sweet corn, watermelon and cherry (or apple) pie. We believe in cookies from home, sharing and helping our neighbors. When government hands are tied, overspent or move too slowly... our churches, charitable organizations and individual citizens step to the plate to provide immediate help and assistance. 

This is America. In some of our darkest moments, we are at our best. "We the people..."

When the arrogance of affluence believes they know what the nation wants and needs, the people still get a vote. History shows that a large number of quietly voting citizens can be a catalyst for change. Some of those quiet, rational citizens eventually assemble to create a bigger voice for change when it is needed. 

We don't always get it right, but we will keep trying. 

On this day, Psalm 33 is full of wisdom. Verse 12 says:
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, -Psalm 33:12a

Were we? Are we? Will we be again? Something to ponder. 

Today, I am grateful for the 4th of July. Happy 241st Birthday, USA.

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