It's freedom we celebrate this week
Thanksgiving is, without a doubt, my favorite holiday. The Fourth of July is a close, close second.
I don't care for fireworks, but I love family reunions, cookouts, and homemade ice cream. We don't eat watermelons before the Fourth, because our granddaddy, who wouldn't have dreamed of buying one – and especially not one shipped here from a warmer state – taught us that they weren't ready before the mid-summer holiday.
Of course, those traditional things have nothing and everything to do with the Fourth of July.
The holiday marks the signing of our nation's Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. The document was drafted by Thomas Jefferson in about three weeks in June of 1776, ratified on July 4, and eventually led to the Revolutionary War.
It was the first of many wars fought by our forefathers and loved ones in the pursuit of freedom for Americans and for others.
When I consider the meaning of the Independence Day, I am reminded of my husband's father, who served in Europe in World War I; of my own father, who served the U.S. Army in the years after Korea and remembers being offered -and declining – an opportunity to go to a little-known country for extra pay. It was to that little-known country, Vietnam, that President Nixon invited my husband. My brother was in Germany with the U.S. Army when the Berlin Wall fell and continues to serve in the Alabama Army National Guard. I hold my breath every time a Guard unit is activated for service in Iraq.
We are told so often of soldiers dying in faraway places like Afghanistan and Iraq that I'm afraid we've become numb to the news, not putting the faces of fathers and brothers and sisters and spouses but seeing instead an anonymous "troop."
All of those soldiers – from my family and yours – fought so that we might enjoy the freedom of America, which is what I suppose we celebrate with BBQ, watermelon, ice cream and fireworks.
As we do, let's not forget the troops – the fathers, mothers, spouses and siblings – who continue to fight for the freedoms of others. We owe them and their predecessors our thanks.
Michele Gerlach can be reached at 867.4876 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.