One of the first documented celebrations of the 4th of July occurred in 1778 when George Washington issued double rations of rum to all of his soldiers to mark the anniversary of our nation’s independence from England. It was not until 1870 that the 4th of July was declared a national holiday.
As you get ready to enjoy a day of BBQ and fireworks with friends and family on this 4th of July holiday, I hope you make time to reflect on what your independence means to you.
What opportunities of independence have you been afforded, and with what sacrifices from others has that independence come?
When I think of what independence means to me, I think of the day I first left home and the day soon after that I realized I could go to the grocery store and buy, then eat, a whole cake if I wanted to. While I quickly realized the latter was an angle of independence that I was not interested in pursuing, I will never forget my first apartment and how proud of it I was. I loved the autonomy I had as an adult and I took immense pride in caring for and enjoying my newly acquired home.
When I think about my home today, I have the same feelings of pride and autonomy, but what I appreciate the most about my home is the feeling of safety for my children and my self, and the assurance of knowing I have a comfortable and clean place to retreat to at the end of the day, no matter what adversity I had earlier faced.
For some, the autonomy of adulthood meant the opportunity to leave home and join the armed forces. This was the case for a young friend of mine, Lance Cpl. Kyle Crowley. Kyle left home to join the Marines and gave his life in Iraq fighting for our freedoms and safety.
While many in our armed forces did not have the fortune of making it home, some individuals made it home only to face debilitating mental and physical challenges. Many of these individuals face homelessness today as a result of these wounds.
On this 4th of July, I ask you to please, reflect on the freedoms and safety that you enjoy today, and don’t forget that this freedom and safety has not come free. Have an enjoyable and safe 4th of July.