It’s July 4th, so much to be thankful for!

Linda Dennis, Program Manager

ATLANTA, GEORGIA

July 4, 2013

What’s great about July 4th is that all media outlets are tuned into broadcasting what a good “J” teacher will assign students when researching for a story.  One must find the Who, What, When, Where and Why – in order to produce the great story!  So, all day long with the rain pouring down, off and on, in the Atlanta area, the television stayed tuned in to just about every channel that had a program that satisfied that challenge.  There were parades, special gatherings and celebrations.  Plus, many renderings of the Star Spangled Banner, even an opening at the National’s Baseball game by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Martin Dempsey.

Early on at school, we are taught about the development and the writing and then the signing of the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution.   This group of men, each representing a colony  assembled to get to the final draft, riding in on horse back.  There is a painting that hangs at the Smithsonian that shows the humor and then the final signing, as one of the signers puts his foot on top of another as they establish the first Congress. There is a  story on how George Washington was called “up” to lead the first military before there was a draft.  His leadership and care for his troops throughout the fight for freedom is what defines a legend and why he is the “Father of our Country”.   The Revolution stories and the sacrifices made by so many for the colonies to earn independence are numerous and found throughout history books.     So that’s many,many stories that make up the July 4th day and why it’s so important to our great nation.

Being raised in South Carolina, we were often told of stories of “SWAMP FOX” and of his heroic adventures.  The northerners had Patrick Henry, and we had Francis Marion (The Swamp Fox).  So one “soldier” riding on a horse in the dead of night, rode the trails up and down the east coast and across the Carolina’s to warn of the British are coming!  He often went into “swamp” to hide and that’s how he earned the name – “Swamp Fox”.  Without his efforts, one would wonder,  what would have happened?

Fast forward to today.  Each of us are enjoying the freedoms so bravely earned for us hundreds of years of ago.  We have airplanes now and a fast-paced life with to many choices of pre-packaged foods, technology beyond what even Ben Franklin could have imagined. We have hundreds of thousands of military service members, who while not on a back of a horse, serve us around the world.  They serve so that we can each year celebrate July 4th without any barriers or restrictions.  Thank you.

How does one explain this to a little child who has yet to go to school and is in awe of the celebrations, what they really mean? They love the parades and the flags flying, and the dark night coming alive with bright lights and booming noises.  It’s usually  a picnic also, and music and friends gathering. And, the food stores are filled with red,white and blue decorated cakes and cupcakes!

So as I explained to my grandchildren, “it’s  all in honor of July 4th, and the establishment of our independence as a nation, our country and the home that you live in and the park that you enjoy so much! It’s the nation’s birthday.”

They understood immediately, after all one of the main events in their lives to date has been their own birthday and those of their little friends.  We love birthdays and it’s a happy time and a good reason to celebrate!  Now where are the cupcakes?