Today is a day of celebration for our country and for our history. The freedoms we enjoy did not come cheap. Many lives were lost and a lot of blood was shed for each of us so that we may live with freedoms that our forefathers only dreamed of. Our history is rich. There are countless stories of heroes and villians that are still being told to this day. We have learned from our history many lessons that we pray never get repeated and some stories that we hope never die.
The hotdogs, hamburgers, cookout foods, and grillouts of today are only a small part of historical significance for today. After all, our stomachs love to have their own stories of great taste and good eats. The desserts can often be legendary. I think my favorite part of days like this are people. That’s because we are all a part of living history.
Everywhere we go, there are countless people full of talents and stories that have yet to be told and heard. We are each walking history. Our lives are full of momentous moments that have changed the course of history. Those of us who were alive during the 9-11 terrorist attacks will never forget how our lives changed and what we were doing in those moments that the planes hit. We will never be able to eradicate the horrors of watching innocent lives being taken before our very eyes. It changed us. It reminded us how fragile life really is and the stories of those who not only lost their lives, but those who helped rescue the fallen. The stories that led to the terrorist bombings have still not been completely tapped. We’ve only heard what the media has portrayed.
Thomas Jefferson was one of the original signers of the Declaration of Independence. This is a very common piece of knowledge but the sacrifices that he and the other signers made have become almost taboo conversations. The slavery movement was alive and well during his time. No man or woman or child should have to endure slavery but there was a time that was commonplace. Thank God we have evolved. Unfortunately, slavery in some forms still exists. Human trafficking is very real. It’s happening as we speak. Children and men and women are all having their freedoms yanked from them. It’s a vicious cycle that needs to end.
Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and many other activists have changed history for the better. They fought for rights that were previously unheard of for the African American community. They insisted on being treated as equals. It was through their actions and those of many others that the African American Community could obtain the freedoms that white privilege took for granted. They were living history throughout their lifetimes.
Space Shuttle Challenger also made history. It was supposed to be the greatest time in the world for a teacher to go into space for the first time. What started as an incredible adventure turned into an incredible nightmare. The lives destroyed didn’t just include the seven incredible astronauts but the entire world who saw the explosion. The families of the men and women who perished were never the same. All it took was a few seconds and the world seemed to stop for a few. We witnessed the space program and couldn’t begin to understand why these people had to perish. Yet even in their deaths, the space program is pushing boundaries. They are working with people to have the freedom to explore new planets and territories not yet explored. Even today, the lingering effects of the sacrifices they made are a constant reminder of the freedoms we enjoy in the way of exploration.
Colin Kaepernik made history by taking a knee in protest during the national anthem. The world went crazy. He made a peaceful protest and while he made have disrespected the flag, the point was he stood up for his belief. He has the right to do that with the freedoms that were fought for. You don’t have to agree with his actions to see that he could have done things violently. He didn’t. He started a movement. That same movement has become a hot debate. It’s because of the freedom we have in this country that we are allowed to have those differences of opinion.
Now, let’s get away from the better known instances that have had people who are living history. Look at the folks who are seniors. They have lived a lifetime. They can tell you more of the wars and the sacrifices they have seen and made. Some folks lived through the depression, some lived through Woodstock, some lived through the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, some were immigrants that flocked here because the homes they fled were not homes where they could live without fear. They came here to be free. There was a time where coming here illegally or not was not an issue. That was before the terrorism. Now there are rules and regulations and they are there for reasons of safety. That doesn’t mean that people who are here illegally are bad. It does mean that they are undocumented. This has become a serious hot topic among folks because many feel that they are a threat. There have been really good people who have been deported due to the new laws. There have also been a lot of criminals sent back. No matter which side of the spectrum you fall into with this topic, the bottom line is that immigrants came to this country for a better life. Many of them don’t feel they can return home because their freedoms are very limited in their home countries. Freedom is never free. There are costs to those freedoms. Sometimes it’s in the pocketbook. Sometimes it’s political. There is always a price.
I have spoken with many people over the years who have taught me about history through their eyes. Some of them have spoken of the loss of families. Some have spoken of the loss of limbs in their bodies. Others have spoken of the PTSD that they suffered throughout many of their trials and struggles. No matter what they have had happen to them, they have all reminded me to celebrate every holiday and don’t take a single day for granted. They remind me of times where families played games instead of on a cell phone, they used board games. They actually talked to one another and didn’t even know or understand what an app would do. Entrepreneurs have utilized their business savvy in order to create a financial freedom for them and created markets that supposedly free up our time and make our lives easier. After all, America is the land of opportunity. It’s the American dream to make your life wealthier. While we are all striving to make our fortunes, let us not forget the dreams of others who worked tirelessly for all of us to have the freedoms to enjoy. We have freedoms to dream, to speak, to write, to protect ourselves, and freedoms to grow. There are many places that don’t enjoy these same freedoms.
If you are blessed enough to be around people, get to know them and their stories. Learn to soak it all in. Many legends and folklore were passed down to us by people who were astute enough to share the stories. There’s usually an element of truth to most legends. If there wasn’t, they wouldn’t stand the test of time. This is why living history is so important. It reminds us of the people who sacrificed everything so that we could enjoy being able to argue with one another, to work with one another, to live in peace and also to learn. I really think that our forefathers had no clue as to the kinds of technology that would have opened up hundreds of years after they fought for this country. I like to believe that not only would they have been fascinated, they also would have warned us against some of the dangers. Technology is wonderful but it can also overtake us. We can become a slave to it if we aren’t careful. Balance is critical so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have.
I hope today has been a joyous celebration for you all. I hope you have been able to take part in as many festivities that you can and to spend time with those you love the best. We are only here on Earth for a small amount of time in the grand scheme of things. What better way to celebrate than to spend it with friends, family and fireworks? Be blessed everyone. Enjoy this day and don’t take any holiday for granted. Happy 4th to all of you.