Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Fourth of July!! Celebrate!


As soon as Father’s Day is over we begin to plan for the Fourth of July. 
 Our family gathers at our cabin in Wisconsin for an extended weekend of festivities that includes cooking, fireworks in Cumberland and the Pipe Lake Association’s boat parade.  Of those activities, the boat parade takes the most thought.   We have competed, occasionally, with various themes for our boat.  We won a trophy the year we decorated the pontoon in a Hawaiian theme with a grass hut, straw hats, bathing suits, grass skirts and hula music.  Five years ago we chose a more patriotic theme.  It was my dad’s 90th birthday year so our entire extended family came to stay at the cabin.  On parade day we flew many flags from our pontoon and my nephew’s daughter, 9 year old  Emily, dressed up as the Statue of Liberty.  She was draped in sheets, wore a pointy crown and carried a torch made of a foil covered plunger with tissue paper flames.  It is notable that Emily, now a teenager, still keeps the crown on her bedroom shelf.  (The plunger is back work in the bathroom.)  We didn’t win a prize that year but my Dad was so proud of the whole family for participating and being so patriotic!  Dad was of a generation that was proud of their country and dedicated to its well being.  The flag and all it represented was alway respected! 
This brings me to a second theme for the Fourth of July.  It is a time of reflection and thanksgiving as well as celebration.  We recently celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Normandy, the turning point in World War ll.  We were reminded of the thousands of men and women who risked or gave their lives in a fight for our freedom.  It is one example of the many battles fought in that war and others to preserve our way of life.  Likewise, the founders of our country fought to establish the freedoms we enjoy today, freedom of speech, freedom of religion,  equal rights.  These were people of integrity and determination.  They gave up their homeland, sacrificed their lives and suffered many hardships as they started new lives in an unfamiliar, less civilized land.  I fear we overlook the difficult times in the past that have established and maintained the country that  we love and celebrate today.  Perhaps we should thank a vet this Fourth of July for his/her service or celebrate those who serve our country in other ways through schools, churches, courts of law, homeless shelters, outreach programs, and on and on.    God asks us to love one another as ourselves.  That’s what will make our country strong enough to celebrate many more birthdays.  Consider these words by Emma Lazarus now written on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, one of our symbols of American freedom.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Appreciate the past.  Plan for the future. Go out and celebrate!  Have a great Fourth of July!