Monday, July 25, 2016

Celebrating the 4th

Once again I am a week off with my column. I guess it all goes along with the day late a dollar short. A day late I will buy but I am way more than a dollar short. In any case, I missed getting this column written before the July 4 holiday, but even as the smoke from the fireworks settles and all of the dogs are just coming out of hiding, I want to share my thoughts on our celebration of Independence Day.
July 4 is one of my favorite holidays for two reasons. First, I am a native of Wamego and we do the 4th in a big way. The parade and fireworks are the highlight of the summer. If you don’t know what I am talking about, you need to come to Wamego for the 4th of July and experience it. Words cannot describe the experience. I also think the 4th is special because it is a standalone holiday. We are a long way from the nearest holiday on either side of the 4th and that makes it special too.
However, we also need to make the 4th special because of what it stands for. It is the day we celebrate our beginning as a nation. From a fledgling colony that rebelled in a wilderness to the greatest nation our world has ever known, what we as a nation have done is quite remarkable. We should be proud of all that we are, all that we have done and (I hope) all that we will do.
A lot of great men and women have sacrificed so much for what we have. We have the highest standard of living, the most freedoms and the greatest rights of any nation at any time on earth. That is something that should not be taken lightly or for granted. We, as citizens of the United States, have more opportunities and possibilities than any other human on earth and we should be so thankful that we were lucky enough to be a citizen of this great nation.
Yes, I know there are many things going on that make us wonder. We see and hear bad news every day and it seems like maybe things are not so good. I do think we are at a cross road in this great nation, a time where we must take a hard look at ourselves. Have we become complacent, have we matured to the point that we have lost our edge and that we take what we have for granted? I hope not.
We are facing one of the most important elections we have ever seen. Yes, I am sure there were other times in our history that we faced hard times, tough decisions just like we are now. We came through those times stronger and tougher and I hope that is the outcome of this election. I am not endorsing any candidate, calling for any change, that is for each of us to decide and vote for what we think is best. What I am saying is that we must each get involved, become informed and make a decision. Recent voter turnout is pitiful, less than half of the citizens of this country exercise the right to vote.
A heavy price has been paid for the rights and freedoms we celebrate each 4th of July and I am quite sure many people take them for granted. We are not a nation of entitlement and handouts, but many of us fall into that trap and the result is not good for our long term health as a nation. Rather, when we are at our best, we are a nation of hard work, innovation and determination. We are leaders of industry and on the cutting edge of technology.
We are not a people ruled by a government but a government ruled by the people. We should not look to our government to guide us through trouble, we should guide our government. Our government was set up to provide protection and infrastructure to allow each one of us the freedom to become successful. Success is not a right, it is something we must earn. That is what we should be celebrating this 4th of July. We should be celebrating a nation where each person decides their own path and is in control of their own success. That is what makes us great.
I cannot wait for the parade and the fireworks. Both serve as a great reminder of just how good we have it here in the United States. We do live in the greatest nation on earth and that is something we should celebrate each day. I believe that we will continue to be the greatest nation on earth as long as we never forget the sacrifices and hard work this nation is built upon and continue to sacrifice and work hard to keep it that way.

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