Posted in Independence Day, photography

Be still…and celebrate freedom

blogIMG_8442Relaxing on vacation with Papa proved to be one of the highlights of my time of just being still during my month-long blogging break. 

That week away from the routine of home provided just the tonic I needed to fuel my writing inspiration again so after I’m finished with my be still series, I’ll be putting more words to my vacation photos and sharing some fun experiences here.

But as part of my be still series, I found this photo I snapped aboard one of the bay cruises we enjoyed on vacation to be most appropriate for this Independence Day today. Soaking up the sunshine, relishing the cool breeze, enjoying the sea air and sights while hearing our flag flapping in the wind was a lovely way of being still.

While we celebrate the 4th of July today with picnics; family and friends gatherings; red, white, and blue decorations; parades; and fireworks displays, let’s not forget to pause, take a moment to give thanks for our freedoms here in America, and salute Old Glory.

With hand on heart, let’s remember these words:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

On this very day, we commemorate the Declaration of Independence, adopted by the Continental Congress in 1776. That document gave our forefathers reason to fight and die for the freedoms we now enjoy 243 years later.

Let’s also remember to take a moment, be still, and pray for this great country of ours to remain indivisible despite our differences and to continue to provide liberty and justice for all.

God, bless America!

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14, King James Version (KJV)

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Posted in Independence Day, photography

The beginning of freedom

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We stepped back in time for an afternoon.

For history buffs like Papa, he was in his element. Bright sunshine filled the blue skies on that warm, summer day.  We parked the car in the asphalt parking lot and left the present behind with our vehicle for just a couple of hours.

This vacation day, filled with tourists and visitors, was unlike a day in April 242 years ago when colonial Americans made a stand right on the place where we stood. Because where we stood at the North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts was the place where the shot heard ‘round the world was fired. 

At that place, it all began. A fight for freedom. A revolution. A stand against tyranny. The American Revolutionary War had begun.

And it seems only fitting on this Independence Day – this 4th of July – that I post photos I captured during our recent vacation to the area.

As we stood in silence imagining a spring day in 1775 when soldiers of the mighty British army met an armed group of patriot colonists and gunfire rang out, I paused to think. What if those colonists had not been so brave? What if they had simply continued to suffer under the rule of the British Empire yet done nothing? Where would America be?

Again I am reminded that freedom isn’t free. Many lives were shed to ensure liberty. Many willingly gave up so much to fight for independence and many gave their all, including their very lives.

Gazing up at the battle monument in that place by the North Bridge, I remembered proudly my American history and the significance of this place. Sixty-two years after this battle, American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson penned these words in the opening lines of his memorial poem, “Concord Hymn:”

“By the rude bridge that arched the flood

Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled

Here once the embattled farmers stood

And fired the shot heard round the world.”

Emerson’s grandfather, a minister who was known as one of the “patriot preachers,” had witnessed the North Bridge incident from his home, the Old Manse, which we also visited. No doubt, the stories young Emerson must have heard from his grandfather made an impact on him when he spent time in Concord as a child and inspired him to write the poem. Emerson eventually moved from Boston to Concord permanently, and we also visited his home there.

On July 4, 1837, at the dedication ceremony for the monument, several Concord townspeople sang the words from Emerson’s poem.

And on this July 4, 2017, I pause to remember why we celebrate this day, thanks to an improbable, resilient group of patriots who unbelievably, against all odds, defeated the British and refused to settle for less than independence.

God bless America!

 “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” –Ronald Reagan

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in America, Independence Day, patriotism

Happy Birthday, America!

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“The United States is the only country with a known birthday.”  ~James G. Blaine

The United States of America.  It’s my country and I wouldn’t have wanted to be a native citizen of any other country in this world.  Patriotic? Yes, I am. As some unknown person once said, “My blood runs red, white, and blue.”

Why? Because I grew up in a time when we were taught to be proud of our nation yet remember the utmost sacrifices that were made to secure freedom and never take that freedom for granted.

I was taught that the Declaration of Independence was written with these words:  

“When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.  We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

I learned the preamble to the United States Constitution and what that important document established:

“We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

My parents taught me to honor the symbol of our nation and its freedom, our flag, and the proper way to treat it and display it. I still recite the pledge of allegiance to our flag.

I know every word to The Star Spangled Banner; My Country ‘Tis of Thee; America, the Beautiful, and God Bless America.

My love for my country does not supersede my love for my Lord, but I know that my nation cannot and will not survive without being one nation under God.

I pray for this great nation of mine because it seems like we are sinking into a muddy mire of our own doing. And it’s time for we the people to speak up and out. As I reflect on this day – this Independence Day – the 4th of July,  the 240th birthday of my country, I take to heart the words of some of our founding fathers and former presidents because they still ring true.

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”  ~ Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

“How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!” ~ Thomas Jefferson

“A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.”  ~ Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, February 12, 1779

“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.” ~ President Dwight D. Eisenhower

And finally a birthday blessing straight from the song, America, the Beautiful, written by Katharine Lee Bates:

“America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!”

Happy Birthday to my country, the United States of America. May God bless it and keep it and may it continue to be a shining light of liberty in a dark world of oppression.

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in freedom, Independence Day

Where liberty dwells

blogDSCN9573We 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.

Flight 93 memorial now

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

Copyright ©2012 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com