Back when I was a young whelp, my first job out of college was for the local newspaper company which owned the weekly newspaper for the town I grew up in. It owned three papers which covered a number of towns in Bergen County, New Jersey. The very first original editorial content I was asked to write was the Fourth of July editorial piece. Before this, as the young kid on the staff I was relegated to re-writing press releases and writing obits. Looking back, and reading it 24 years later it might seem hokey, but the sentiment remains.
The following was originally published July 1, 1994 by The Sun Bulletin, The Reporter, and The Press-Journal newspapers.
Fire up the grill and get ready to celebrate, the Fourth of July is upon us.
July 4th has always been the traditional high water mark for summer festivities. The national holiday to celebrate the birth of the United States of America. A day for cookouts, parades, and fireworks. A red, white, and blue letter day of fun and relaxation.
The one day a year when the entire nation breathes a collective sigh of relief and reflects on the impact of what can be done with a brilliant vision and the courage to see it through. The founding-fathers had that vision, of a land where people could be free to speak their minds, worship as they wished and have a say in the governmental decisions which affected them. It is a day for fun and relaxation, but also a day of giving thanks. Thanks for freedom.
Freedom is now a staple of life for Americans. It has become part of the four major food groups. Americans consume freedom like water and if the supply of freedom was to run dry we would perish like castaways on a desert island.
Perhaps that is why it must be protected so vigorously. July 4th is a day to give thanks to those Americans who have died gaining our liberty and the millions since who have made the greatest sacrifice protecting it over the last 218 years.
The proudest of all holidays, the combination of Presidents Day, Memorial Day, and everybody’s birthday rolled into one beautiful summer day set aside to give thanks and celebrate the inalienable right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” A time to reflect on all things uniquely American — like baseball, hot dogs, rock n’ roll and a three branch system of government “by the people, for the people.”
So as the parade marches by and the fireworks light up the skies and the vast cornucopia of national pride begins to give you goose-bumps, take a minute to look around at the smiling face of the small child as “Old Glory” passes. Look into the eyes of that child as she begins to discover what freedom and America means. Then give thanks that there are brave men and women stationed all over the world who will fight and die to preserve that child’s freedom and then, continue to get more goose-bumps.
Have a safe and enjoyable holiday.