Who doesn’t love the 4th of July? Growing up here in Columbus it was always an exciting day spent by the pool, eating watermelon, and waiting with anticipation for the fireworks display at Lamar and Sandra Beck’s house down the street. And yet, even as a kid, I knew that there was more to the day than the things that I mentioned above. With a grandfather who served in WW2 and a dad who is also a veteran, I grew up knowing that I was able to enjoy a day by the pool, watermelon, and fireworks because for over 200 years, brave men and women have laid down their lives to protect this great nation we live in.
About three years ago I went to Washington, D.C. with my mom and one of my sisters for fall break. We spent three days visiting museums and memorials. On our first day we went to the WW2 Memorial and we just happened to be there at the same time as a rather large group of veterans. Mom and Caroline were a little ways away from me and as I stood there taking it all in, I overheard this older man talking to a girl who seemed to be about my age. It was obvious that they did not know one another. He was telling her about his experiences as a solider. We made eye contact, he smiled, and invited me into their conversation. He said that he had lied about his age so that he could join the army in WW2, was injured, sent home, and then went back. He served in the Korean War and then again in Vietnam. He had contracted Agent Orange, was almost blind, and had suffered numerous other health issues because of his time in the service. As he continued with his story, I noticed that not only had my mother and sister joined us, but a rather large crowd had gathered around us. The gentleman had tears streaming down his face as he looked at me and said “But, you know what? I would do it again and again and again. Because I love my country and I am proud to serve her.” The crowd began to move towards him and he was hugged and hand-shaken for quite awhile.
As we celebrate this 4th of July and face an exciting election year, both in the Georgia Primary this month and the General Election in November, I remember this story and that sweet, loyal man and the idea that this holiday isn’t about Republicans or Democrats. It isn’t about one particular issue or piece of legislation. It is about the men and women who realized that what our forefathers created for us here in America is something worth fighting for. It is about the freedom that we possess, which I personally am all to guilty of taking for granted. We can call ourselves Republicans and Democrats and argue over issues and pieces of legislation because there are men and women who stand ready to fight those who threaten to take away those freedoms.
So, as we fire up the grills this weekend, spend time with family and friends, and as we watch fireworks go bursting through the sky, join me in remembering those first rockets with their red glare and take a moment to give thanks for those who willingly lay down their lives for our country every day.
Yours for Freedom’s Fight,