231 years ago, the Declaration of Independence was signed, but it wasn't until seven years later, in 1783, that the war was over and the United States of America was officially free of British rule. We commemorate a lot of things on July 4th - the signing of that most important document, the birth of a new nation, and the freedom that we've been able to enjoy since Thomas Jefferson wrote of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." For this holiday, I'm turning my blog over to my listeners - below are excerpts from letters and emails I've received reminding us all about what it means to be an American, and how we should value those who defend those rights we hold so dearly.
...there are still plenty of Americans that are thankful and proud of what [our sons and daughters are] willing to do for us. We are not so stupid and foolish as to think that if this country was without a military, we would be able to lead the lives and have the freedoms and "luxuries" (like running water and electricity) that most Americans take for granted as a "right" instead of realizing that [these are] privileges that most inhabitants of this planet do not enjoy....These are truly times that try men's souls. Thanks to all military families for their service from a STILL proud American!!! -- Glenda
I am a US Marine Corps veteran. I am a woman, standing 5'3", 110 pounds. I served my country for four years, prior to getting married and having children, and it is one of my proudest accomplishments (of course, my family ranks #1). Because of my service, I am a strong, independent, and educated woman. I am a better wife and mother for having served. The military is an excellent place to find your inner strength, and having been there, I know that I can accomplish anything. -- Mikayla
Today we said goodbye to one of our own, Marine Sergeant Stephen Wilson. I did not know him, but attended the services to show my support for the men and women serving our country. When I arrived at the church, the streets were lined with flags and supporters. I was handed a small American flag, and I entered the parking lot. The motorcycle Vietnam veterans accompanied the hearse and there were veterans there en masse.
The service was beautiful, and what stands out in my mind was Stephen's best friend. They grew up together and joined the Marines together. In his remarks, he wanted to convey what Stephen would have said. He said he would have asked what America meant to the soldiers. He continued that many would say "freedom," but Stephen would have said "you," as he pointed to the audience. Stephen would have said we do this because of you, the people we love. It was so incredible and powerful!
After the service, I went around and introduced myself to each and every Marine and thanked them for their service. Several got tears in their eyes. I was looking into the souls of MEN, not boys. One Marine told me he had gotten there the previous night and had gotten lost. He stopped to get directions, and when the woman found out why he was here, she took him home, cooked dinner for him, and invited in friends. He was overwhelmed with their love and generosity.
Dr. Laura, you would not believe how many wonderful, loving, caring people here love our country and our brave men and women that serve. May God bless them and never forget they are doing it for us. -- Terri; Discovery Bay, CA