The United States, as a country, is still young at about 240 years old. While that may seem to be a long time, it is not compared to Great Britain, France, Spain, and other European countries that have been around for over a thousand years.
Historically speaking, the 4th of July has been celebrated for a couple of centuries. Maybe not as a formal holiday, but as a day when freedom was declared.
The United States has been known by many other names over the decades and centuries:
- The New World
- The Western World
- The West
- Land Across the Pond
- Land of Opportunity
- Land of Milk and Honey
After establishing ourselves as a country in our own right we began to be called:
- The Land of the Free
- The Land of Freedom
- Home of the Brave
- The Melting Pot
Here, we just call it home.
What Does it Mean to be an American
To me it means the opportunity and freedom to live without fear, without censorship, without persecution, without oppression.
I do not fear
- wars being fought on the streets around my home.
- being spirited away at night by my government for something I believe or said.
I have to freedom to speak about
- how I feel about my government.
- my political opinions.
- my religious beliefs.
I have the freedom to
- live my religion.
- choose my lifestyle.
- get an education.
- choose my profession.
- live where I want.
- own weapon.
Freedom is NOT Free
This is a very touchy subject to some. It is, however, a very true statement.
I am a pacifist. I firmly believe that non-violent means should be used to settle all disputes. I see no reason for fighting or killing to prove a point.
Does this mean that I refuse to fight? No. It does not.
My mother taught us that ladies and gentlemen never start a fight. All other options should be attempted first. However, once the fight has been started, we have the right and obligation to protect ourselves and others.
Freedom is most often won and kept by bloodshed. Not because it is the right thing to do, but because it is often the only way to keep the bullies, terrorists, and those who think they are above the law from running us over.
I have uncles who fought in WWII. I have sons who have fought in the war on terror. They didn’t fight because they liked it. They fought because they felt that your freedom, my freedom, and the freedom of others was worth it. They were willing to bleed and die for something bigger than themselves.
Many people don’t take the time to learn or understand the history of this country. They think that the war has already been fought and that we should be able to be free because that is just the way it is. This is a misconception.
My son, who now has post-traumatic stress and injured disks in his lower back, went willingly to war. He saw things that broke his heart. He was required to do things that were repugnant to him. He was shot by a sniper. He was medically discharged from the Army.
Is he sorry? No. But there are those who have called him a killer, a murderer, an evil beast, and other things he won’t tell me. His response? Well, I did all those things so that you have the right to call me names and be rude. Be grateful.
We All Have Rights
We all have the same rights granted by the same Bill of Rights. Free speech. Freedom of religion. Right to bear arms. However, these rights do have limits.
Your rights stop where my rights begin.
My rights stop where your rights begin.
Nobody has the right to make someone do something they do not wish to. Just because we choose differently does not give someone the right to force acceptance or compliance.
Tolerance is the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with. Agree to disagree and be done with it.
We all have the right to be
- of service.
Celebrate Your Freedom
As we celebrate the birth of this amazing country, remember the freedoms we enjoy.
Celebrate not only our commonalities as Americans, but also the differences we all bring to this country.
A good team embraces the differences of each member and combines the strength of each to create something bigger and better than themselves.
Let us stop fighting among ourselves. Let us make something bigger and better to leave to our children and grandchildren.
As we gather to eat good food, play games, and light fireworks think about what being an American means to you.
Then share it with us.