It’s Independence Day, otherwise known as the Fourth of July. A day we here in the United States of America celebrate our freedoms.
As I consider this day and the many struggles, chaos, and trying circumstances my country has endured, I’m reminded of this excerpt from Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech so many years ago.
“…So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!‘ ”
Perhaps we all need to be reminded that each of us is God’s child, no matter our color, no matter our race, no matter our religion and that we must cherish the freedoms we so blatantly take for granted in this great country of ours.
Today and every day going forward, let’s be united as free American people and proclaim, “Let freedom ring!”and not be afraid to defend it.
“Freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it.” ~ Pericles
On a scale of one to ten, I’d give this photo a ten. Not because it’s an extraordinary picture. Not because the photographer (that would be me) is a professional (because I’m certainly an amateur, hobbyist kind of picture taker). And not just because it fits the Word Press Weekly Photo Challenge theme of ‘scale.’
There’s Lady Liberty standing tall at 305 feet from the foundation she sits upon to the top of her torch. You might say Miss Liberty is living large. Her feet alone are 25 feet long; her face is more than eight feet tall; and her right arm holding the torch measures 42 feet.
And if that’s not enough, her total weight is 225 tons (that equals 450,000 pounds).
Compare her in size to the ‘little people,’ the humans gathering on her base in this photo. The average height of an American man is 5’9″. American women are on the average around 5’4″ tall. It seems that the average weight here in the United States is on the rise but we certainly can’t compare to the Statue of Liberty’s weight.
So on a scale measuring size, we humans look pretty insignificant compared to Lady Liberty.
But on a scale measuring importance, all of those little people mean more than this famous statue. Because we are the defenders of liberty. We are the people who must never forget what it costs to live free. And we have the power to protect, guarantee, and ensure that the generations who will follow us will continue to live in that freedom. We must never, ever take liberty for granted.
So if you think your voice doesn’t matter, you’re wrong. If you think there’s no use in speaking out against government, politicians, injustices, corruption, immorality, or just plain wrongdoings occurring in our country – the land of the free and the home of the brave – you’re wrong. If you think your vote, your opinion, your rights, your beliefs don’t matter any more, you are wrong.
Because we, the people, no matter how small we are, hold up Miss Liberty. Without us, she means nothing.
“Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed — else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower
We celebrate the day feasting. Bar-b-que grills fire up all over the country and plates are filled with picnic food galore – everything from hotdogs to watermelon. Enthusiastic backyard games of softball, volleyball, and badminton continue throughout the day.
Marching parades wind through hometown streets, and there may be patriotic speeches or concerts in other areas. Everyone’s attire includes red, white, and blue while Old Glory waves from the front porch flagpole. Stars and stripes bedeck buildings and houses.
The sound of firecrackers pops through the air and as dusk commences its descent on the day’s activities, everyone jumps in the car in search of an awesome fireworks display to ooh and aah over in the summertime night sky.
It’s the way we Americans commemorate the fourth of July, our Independence Day. It’s the way our family usually celebrates too. But not this year.
Since the fourth landed on a mid-week day and almost everyone in our family only had that one day off, we couldn’t celebrate the holiday together due to work schedules and distance.
The newlyweds now live in the state south of us and son lives in the state next door. Only oldest daughter lives close by, in the city. She arrived at the homestead Tuesday night with a great idea for how the three of us – Mama, Papa, and Daughter – could spend the day on the fourth.
She suggested a day trip. A couple years after the 9-11 attacks, we visited Flight 93’s crash site in Shanksville, PA on our way to the Outer Banks, North Carolina for vacation. Oldest daughter, who had just graduated from college and started her new job, was unable to accompany us on that trip.
At the time, only a makeshift memorial existed in honor of the Americans who lost their lives in the quiet Pennsylvania farmland that infamous day. Now there is a permanent memorial at the site and our daughter wanted to see it, especially because she’d missed our previous visit there.
Since the area is an easy drive from our home, we decided to venture there and then meander around to see what other sights we might encounter.
Years ago when we visited the crash site, I wept when I stepped out of the car. This time tears did not fall, but the sense of solemnity in this peaceful, serene place where terror struck so vividly engulfed me.
Gone was the makeshift chain link fence serving as a memorial wall with mementos lodged in it, including a local firefighter’s coat. In its place a beautifully designed tribute exists. Gazing out at the field of grass and wildflowers, it’s almost unfathomable to imagine the violence of that day.
We weren’t the only ones who decided to spend a few moments on Independence Day visiting the Flight 93 Memorial Park. Vehicles filled the parking area, yet there was hushed silence among those of us who walked the grounds.
On a hot, summer day, we read the informative placards, we viewed the area where the plane went down, we walked silently to the memorial where we read the names of those who lost their lives, we noted the mementos left in honor, and we sat on a bench quietly contemplating and remembering the day life changed for all of us Americans. In the silence, it seemed our country’s flag provided a form of taps as it flapped in the gentle breeze.
It was a fitting way to celebrate Independence Day and the freedom we treasure in the United States of America, to remember that freedom isn’t free, and to understand that sometimes the cost of freedom is extremely high and painful. But freedom is worth the cost.
“Where liberty dwells, there is my country.” ~ attributed to Benjamin Franklin