Another 4th has arrived. Many will enjoy a day off. Barbecues will be blazing, picnics festive and fireworks magnificent. It’s a day most Americans immensely enjoy and which brings a sense of pride, thanks and solemnity towards those who battled for our freedom.
I have to admit it’s tempting today to challenge those who have benefited from our liberties and yet publicly trash our leaders, standards and traditions. But that must be for another time.
Today I want to also celebrate my dad. He would have been 100 years old today. He loved having his birthday on the Fourth of July reminding us every year that the whole country was celebrating it.
More importantly he was also one of those who fought for the freedom we celebrate today. He served in the military for four years, a significant portion of that time in combat overseas in Germany. He won the Silver and Bronze Stars for bravery, something our family didn’t know until after his death, rescuing several caught under fire.
I’ve heard a few interesting stories about places he went and people he met during his service. There’s the German lady who introduced him (and later us indirectly) to shortbread. Thank you, ma’am! There were the famous landmarks he visited and a few of the souvenirs he brought back.
But we never heard about the bad parts. Maybe that’s why we never knew about the medals. We learned more later discovering there was much he kept inside like so many who served and faced the horrors of battle. They just didn’t want to talk about it.
Instead he came home, married and had kids enjoying that freedom that he fought for. He didn’t gripe about the leaders or bemoan the fact that this country wasn’t perfect. He got a tear in his eye when he heard a patriotic song or a fireworks display.
So today reminds me of how good we have it in America. But it also reminds me of people like my dad who gave so much for us to still have a very special place to live today. No, it’s not perfect. My dad wasn’t perfect, but I hope we’ll appreciate it a little more this year and thank God that we get to live here.
Happy birthday, dad.