Independence Day…

Make It Special

 July 4th is more than a day off work. It is a celebration of freedom we all should commemorate. The freedom it represents was won through the sacrifice of courageous men and women. Every generation since has had to protect it. And while patriotism may not be “in vogue” in some circles today, I consider myself a proud Patriotic American and believe every American citizen should also be.

Being patriotic brings to mind a personal incident from the historical 1986 Chicago Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home parade. It was the largest of its kind in the history of America and one of the most moving experiences of my life. Thousands of Vietnam Vets paraded down the streets of Chicago with their heads high and tears flowing. It was a healing time for both the vets and the crowd. Over 500,000 spectators cheered, applauded and thanked them for their service and sacrifice. Strangers hugged them and handed them drinks.

I was with a young man from our staff who had been an anti-war protestor, deep in the hippie drug culture before coming to Christ. As we watched the parade together, I realized he was overcome with emotion and was sobbing. When he was able to talk he said, “Something incredible has happened to me. For the first time in my life,” he said, “I felt a sense of patriotism. I have never felt it before and it is a wonderful feeling.” It was a turning point for him. He finally got it. He was an American, and it was something to feel good about and celebrate.

While we are not perfect, our form of government and the opportunities and freedoms we offer are better than the rest, and we should be grateful for them and proud of them. This year make your Independence Day celebration more than just a day off with family and friends. Take time to think and talk about what it means to you. Talk to your children and grandchildren about the privilege of being an American and why it is important. Fly a flag. Don’t be hesitant to call yourself a patriotic American. Express yourself. We have a valuable legacy, and it is crucial that we live it and pass it on. Make it special. May God richly bless you.