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Posts tagged ‘American Independence’


Today marks the 238th birthday of the United States of America.

IMG_3524The Second Continental Congress legally declared America’s independence from Britain on 2 July 1776.  But the actual Declaration of Independence, penned by the Committee of Five with Thomas Jefferson taking the lead as the principal author, was not approved as the document explaining the reasoning behind that fateful resolution until the 4th of July.  Although there is some historical evidence that not all the signatures were affixed on the document until August, the 4th of July became the day this young country started its tradition of celebrating its independence.

In 1777, Independence Day was marked by a thirteen gunshot salute fired in the morning and again in the evening on the 4th of July.  In 1778, General George Washington also fired an artillery salute but then went on to offer his soldiers a double ration of rum to celebrate the day.  In 1781, Massachusetts was the first state to recognize the date as an official day of celebration.  In 1791, “Independence Day” was accepted as the official name of this important date.  Congress named Independence Day as an unpaid federal holiday in 1870.  Finally, in 1938, Congress made the date an official paid federal holiday; this designation was revised and expanded into its present form in 1941.

Independence Day Celebrations today take many forms.  Parades and barbecues are the standard fare. Fireworks displays get more and more impressive each year.  In 2009, New York City hosted the largest fireworks display by exploding 22 tons of pyrotechnics!  Most major cities host spectacular displays, typically accompanied by wonderful musical performances.  Many of these events are televised.  Of course, during the whole first week of July, Americans can also find extensive sales on anything from hotdogs to cars. Perhaps there is nothing quite so American as making a buck and getting a good deal.

This year, however you choose to celebrate, I hope you stay safe and sane with the fireworks, especially if you are shooting them off on your driveway.  Also, stay cool and have fun, just like there two cute little elephants! [This video might not be the most patriotic, but it is still good advice.  And these two are so cute!]



Contemplating Personal Freedoms

I’m thinking a lot about independence this weekend as the 4th of July approaches. 

But it is a bittersweet weekend.  My Dad is settling into a convalescent hospital as his new home.  My Mom lives next door in the Retirement Center that provides assisted living—until now, Dad has lived there too.  But Dad’s needs have progressed far enough that he needs more care than the retirement center can provide.  He is now being cared for in a good facility with a caring staff, right next door.  He is safe and getting the help he needs, but I’m still sad.  Part of that care means he is being told when and what to eat, what to wear, whether he can try to walk on his own or not, and where he can go.  I expect he is feeling alone, confused, frustrated. 

I understand that his freedoms are being reduced so that he does not hurt himself and so that he will get the care he needs.  But his freedoms are still being reduced.  His loss of personal freedoms on the same weekend we are celebrating American Independence just makes all these changes more poignant, more bittersweet.  This whole focus on personal freedoms got me thinking about the independence of our lives, the daily freedoms or even the independence milestones that we so often take for granted.  Here’s my list of freedoms that I most valued over the years and still value today:

Staying home alone for the first time, scary but fun, still keeping all the lights on to keep the creepy sounds away.

Getting my license so I could come and go a bit more as I pleased, augmented by getting my own car right after high school!

Getting my own apartment, not living with roommates as I did through college, but living alone, so I did not have to share the refrigerator, fight over the thermostat, collaborate over the TV channel.  I could also run up my own debt and had to clean the bathroom AND take care of the yard—hmm.  Freedom creates responsibility. 

Finally making enough money so that I did not have to teach summer school in order to pay my bills.  That meant I had the freedom to take vacations, heading off on my own to visit wherever I liked.  I still went to see family and at times traveled with friends, but my lone expeditions were delightful.  I literally had the day at my command. 

Of course as responsibilities and relationships grow, total freedom becomes moot and compromise and cooperation become the norm. But it is still great to wear what I want even if others say, “You’re going to wear THAT?” or to eat what I want, even realizing the chocolate or wine or ice cream are not really good for me!  It took some time to learn how to say, “No, I do not want to have a relationship with you—you are too negative and controlling.”  I watch lots of TV shows others think are silly—Star Trek, X-Files, even People’s Court—but I can!  It’s my house, my TV, my time, so there!  I even take my car most of the time when I go somewhere—party or other event—because I like to be able to leave when I want! 

I realize that I often overlook these day-to-day freedoms—they are just the fabric of my life.  But when I do stop to contemplate them, I know that these freedoms help balance the commitments of life and keep me sane.  It is the loss of these little freedoms my Dad is facing, so I feel for him and plan to bring him some of his favorite cookies when I visit next week! 

What are the milestones of personal freedom that you value? 

 This is a good weekend to appreciate them! 

This is also a good weekend to contemplate what actions you will take, to decide how you will make use of your freedoms and independence.

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I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle.  I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.  Mother Teresa

 We do no great things, only small things with great love.  Mother Teresa

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