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On July 4, I read an Associated Press story about Marines in Afghanistan. They were hauling weight-buckling packs, the reporter wrote, and walking a many miles in sweltering 100-degree heat.
Since it was Independence Day, the Marines mentioned that people back at home were celebrating the holiday.
The article included a Marine’s comments that his family was probably out on a lake, while another said his family was also dealing with 100-degree heat. He continued to note, however, that in his family’s situation, there was no one, anywhere, waiting for the opportunity to kill them.
It was a comfortable, safe state that my family and I am sure many others, experienced on July 4. There was no need for us to worry as we chowed down on hot dogs or watched fireworks fill up the sky with fiery lights.
These Marines, along with the rest of the military, had our backs.
As I watched the flag slide up the pole and heard the crowd start to sing the national anthem at Overlook Park, I thought about those Marines baking in a foreign country as they carried out their mission to make the world safer a place.
There’s really no way to adequately express gratitude to those who walk into danger for the benefit of the rest of us, so I will simply say “Thank you.”
I think I took more time to appreciate the U.S. on its shining day of glory this year than in previous years, probably because my whole family now lives in town and I had the opportunity to celebrate Independence Day with all of them.
I was able to do all the conventional holiday activities, including feasting on barbecue and pulling out the lounge chairs to watch fireworks explode in the sky.
It was a great family experience. My 11-month-old nephew looked sharp in his button-up Hawaiian “party shirt” during dinner and it was fun to watch my niece and oldest nephew whirl their arms to make their glow sticks blur their neon light at the park before the fireworks started.
Plus, when the fireworks display began, my father and oldest nephew thought up a name for each and every type. The glittery white fireworks were snow balls, the red and blue fireworks were Spiderman, the green and red one was Christmas.
When the show was over and we returned home, it occurred to me that in this country the glass is way more than half-full.
There are those who claim that people forget about all of America’s past glories and do not care about the principles the country was founded on.
But at Overlook Park, joined by several thousands of people, it seemed pretty clear to me that these statements are false. We were all united in celebration and admiration for this country. Sure we all charged into the park with the intent of getting the best seat and we all swarmed out with the objective of beating the traffic; but for a period of time, we bonded together; each person became another’s friend.
This glow of patriotism and neighborly love seemed brighter than any fireworks and more poignant than any words could express.