July 4 is like Thanksgiving, but with fireworks

Published 6:00 am Sunday, July 4, 2021

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What does your July 4 celebration entail?

For most of us, it includes gathering friends and family together for barbecues and fireworks.

When you pause for just a moment to consider what the holiday stands for, these traditional festivities make sense. When you come together with friends and family for Thanksgiving, a meal is almost always involved.

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This would explain why Fourth of July is often celebrated with an overindulgence in high-carb and sugar-loaded food smack in the middle of swimsuit season. However, one thing that families often do before digging in to the smorgasbord of deliciousness during Thanksgiving is go around the table and ask each other what they’re thankful for.

This moment of reflection gives the holiday purpose and meaning beyond stuffing our faces.

When we observe Independence Day, it’s as if the entire country is giving thanks for one very important thing — freedom. On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress declared that the 13 American colonies were a free, united and independent nation no longer ruled by King George III. Freedom is a loaded word full of meaning for anyone who has ever known what it means not to be free.

For the rest of us, who’ve had the privilege of living in a free country where important things like religion and social status are not governed by a dictator, freedom can easily be taken for granted.

Equally important is the sacrifices others made for that freedom to exist. As the crowds “ooh” and “aah” at fireworks popping in the sky, it is not a far step of the imagination to picture what Francis Scott Key witnessed at the bombardment of Fort McHenry in 1814 by the British Royal Navy to inspire his writing a poem that would become “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

After the chaos of warfare and “bombs bursting in air,” he saw the American flag still waving — an indicator of the United States’ victory.

In the midst of your celebrating this holiday, we encourage you to reflect on why we are celebrating in the first place.

It took a lot of bloodshed for America to become what it is and many still fight so America can stay what it is. Today, we say thank you to those heroes.

Let freedom ring.