Tomorrow is Independence Day in America. When I was a kid, that meant going on a camping trip with all of my cousins, finding a "swimming hole" and playing baseball in a grassy field somewhere in the beautiful Oregon wilderness. Grandma always brought a box of sparklers for every kid and I looked forward to writing my name in the night sky with my sparkler. There was always good picnic food and lots of it. What great memories!
In more recent years, my parents have thrown a great party in their backyard that included some serious Olympic-style competitions, such as watermelon seed spitting, volleyball in the pool and horseshoes (I think Heather and Ann actually won Gold Medals at some of these events). It is here that we heard several heartfelt speeches from guests who had recently earned their US citizenship, my mother-in-law included. Those that have worked hard to successfully make a new life in this country do not take opportunity and freedom for granted.
It is also a time to be thankful for those who have fought to defend our freedoms, and all of those who work to make this a better place to live. I enjoy traveling to many different places, but there truly is no place like home.
The 4th of July is a day to celebrate all that is great about this country. We will do that in many ways across this great land tomorrow, but there will be some common threads. There will be picnics and BBQ's, parades and parties. The Stars and Stripes will be on display on flagpoles, yards and T-shirts. There will most certainly be amazing displays of fireworks to cap off this day of celebration.
My family will be cheering rodeo contestants in Prescott, Arizona, and we will be praying for the brave firefighters who lost their lives battling the flames near here this week. Thank you again to all the men and women and their families who risk their lives to protect us and our country.
I hope you and yours have a special day planned to celebrate the home of the free and the brave!
Happy Birthday America, from Sea to Shining Sea!