Reflections on the 4th of July

Today is the 4th of July.  It is the anniversary of the founding of this country that we call the United States.  A day for celebrating who we are and for remembering those who paid the ultimate price to ensure the freedom in which we live our day to day lives.  A day to honor those who have fought to defend our nation and to protect us and keep us safe.  

I sometimes wonder why I was chosen by God to be as blessed as I have been to have been born here, and have to have grown up here.  There are so many in the world who have never known the blessings and luxuries that I have known.  I can only be grateful, because I was placed here through no choice of my own.  

As anyone who has spent much time in the US knows, this place truly is a melting pot of many traditions and cultures.  As I was growing up, I knew other people who's heritage was German or Italian or Jewish (among other nationalities) and they knew where they came from and held their cultural traditions near and dear to their hearts. I didn't know much about where I came from and I often wondered where my roots were. What nationality did I descend from? What cultural traditions were passed down to me that came from other places? 

When I reached my early thirties I decided to see what I could find out about my heritage. 

I found that my ancestors have been on this continent since before the USA was the USA. 

They were Irish, English, Czech, German and even possibly some Native American.  

They fought in the Revolutionary War. They were both blue and gray in the Civil War, both fighting for what they believed to be right.  They were Navy and Marines in the Second World War.  Some were Air Force men and Navy men during both the Korean War and peace time.  I have cousins who have been to Iraq.  

They were merchants and farmers and clergymen. 

There were both rich and poor. 

Eventually I came to see that my heritage is not that of another country. It is American. It is a wonderful mixture of all of these cultures and more. The blood of people who have fought for and possibly died for this country runs through my veins. 

My traditions are apple pie and ice cream. Chocolate chip cookies and lemonade stands. Picnics and fireworks on this day in July. County fairs and midway rides. Turkey and cranberries on the third Thursday in November. Santa parades and summer festivals.  Summer vacations and sprinklers on the lawn.  Christmas vacation from school and snow angels in the yard.  Martin Luther King Day, Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day and Veteran's Day.     

I know who I am and I am honored and blessed to be who I am.

I am an American.

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