Friday we celebrated the Fourth of July. There were hot dogs and hamburgers, kids playing in sprinklers and swimming pools and, of course, fireworks, lots of them. In Clinton, for example, crowds lined up early along Sunset, with tailgates flung open, grills fired up and blankets spread out, all to witness the culmination of a day’s worth of activities celebrating our nation’s birthday.
Newton Grove will hold similar activities tonight during their own July 4th celebration at Weeks Park.
During those celebrations, some might have stopped the revelry long enough to say the Pledge of Allegiance, placing hand to heart in honor of our nation’s birthday and in tribute to the freedoms we have and to those who’ve made it possible.
But what does it all mean, this celebration of freedom none of us have really ever been without?
President Abraham Lincoln probably captured it best when he said, “Freedom is the last, best hope of earth.”
Say it to yourselves quietly. Freedom is the last, best hope of earth. Doesn’t it bring you comfort, perhaps even make you sigh?
It is for that reason that we should celebrate, offer thanks to God and validate feelings we don’t even understand through celebrations that cannot possibly capture how we should feel about this nation we are blessed to live in, the men and women throughout history who have made it possible and the hard-fought battles waged time and again to ensure that we are never without the freedoms we all too often take for granted.
It’s easy to do, really, since most of us can’t really recall a time in our lives when we weren’t free. The freedom President Lincoln spoke so eloquently about is something we’ve grown accustomed to, something that comes as naturally, and is as expected, as having air to breathe and food to eat.
But this freedom we celebrated this weekend didn’t come about all that easily, nor has it been protected without peril.
It was the dream of men willing to put quill to parchment, risking their lives for the sake of something they loved more than life — liberty. And through their declarations of freedom, they took up a cause far more powerful than even their words could describe.
In so doing, they brought a new nation to life, and with it the freedoms we all enjoy today.
It is those freedoms we should give thought to not just when we celebrate July 4th or Memorial Day, but every day.. It is those freedoms we should praise God for, freedoms that give us hope, inspire us to action and remind us of those who so bravely died upholding its cause.
America’s freedom is forever tied to the birth of this great nation And though battle-scarred and different from what our forefathers might have envisioned, this nation and the freedoms she stands for define who we are individually and collectively. It’s what sets us apart.
No matter our differences, regardless the flaws in our moral fabric, America still stands proud and tall, representing the freedom that has, over time, come with great loss. And we pay her homage, as we should.
It’s what this celebration we call the Fourth of July should really be about — honoring freedom and standing up for it at every turn. But more than that, it’s a celebration we should have more often, if no other place than in our hearts.
We should never take our freedoms for granted and we should understand that with those freedoms come great responsibilities, those we should pass on from one generation to another so freedom’s light will forever burn in the hearts and minds of every American.
Lincoln was right, freedom is the last best hope of the earth. May it forever ring … may it forever be celebrated.