Every year, millions of Americans celebrate Independence Day and reflect on what it means to be a citizen of the United States. Most Americans spend the 4th of July with family and/or friends. Others choose to celebrate the holiday alone for various reasons.
No matter how Americans celebrate Independence Day, I am sure many would agree that the United States is a great place to live if you truly value things like freedom, Democracy, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, and the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution. I know that I do.
As an American freelance journalist, I especially value Freedom of the Press. If I did not have the freedom to write factual news stories about people and events in Baker City, Oregon, I would not have a job. I also would not have the freedom to make my own choices. Therefore, I am very thankful that Freedom of the Press, and Freedom of Speech, still exists in my country.
However, I sometimes wonder if Americans have forgotten how to separate family traditions from history when they celebrate important holidays, like Christmas, Thanksgiving or Independence Day.
For example, do young children know the 4th of July is more than just eating fast food from McDonald‘s and setting off fireworks? Do they understand the concept of how many men and women have fought, bled, and died to protect their freedoms in the United States? How will they celebrate Independence Day when they grow up and have kids of their own?
Having family traditions during a holiday is always fun, but is it more important than remembering the significance of a holiday or why it was created and established in the first place? How do you celebrate a family tradition, while remembering the sacrifice of others, without favoring one side or the other and possibly ruin a happy moment with loved ones?
I admit that sometimes I feel my family traditions and gatherings are more important to me than the actual significance of a holiday, like Independence Day. I also know I am not the only person who experiences these kinds of feelings, too.
As an honorably discharged US Army veteran, I often pray in silence for those who died for my freedom. However, is praying good enough? Can I do more than just give silent thanks and write factual news stories for my readers? Who knows? Maybe someday I'll find an answer. If I don't, then I'll do my best not to forget the meaning of Independence Day while celebrating it with my family and friends.