Monday, July 05, 2010

Reflections on my independence

I love the 4th of July. Independence Day. I mean, if you live in America you love it. Right? It's a given. Fireworks, sparklers, boom-boom, steaks on the grill. The whole nine yards. What's not to love?

But can I be honest for a second? I mean gut-level-I-think-I-must-be-a-jerk honest?

Our Independence Day does not effect me like it should. I should stop and think about what has been sacrificed for me in order for me to enjoy the life of freedom that I have and that should be enough to leave me in a puddle.

And it does not work that way.

You see ... I am spoiled. I have never lived in anything but freedom. Nobody has ever asked to see "my papers" at any border except the few times I have crossed over into Canada. I have been in most states any my license plates have never been looked upon with scorn. I have never been slapped down because of my color, my race, my nationality. It's never once happened to me.

I am enormously glad that this is true. I am grateful. I hope that I will be able to make this statement until the day I die. But I recognize that my lack of personal sacrifice and persecution causes me to simply not fully comprehend my freedom ... much less what others paid for it. My father fought for 4 long years in world war two. He was in a "half-track" with the 2nd Armored Division. "Hell on Wheels." He slept in this track or in ditches. He fought in snow and blistering heat, battling his way across north Africa and then Europe. He compiled memories that he could not talk about. Ever. He was at D-Day +3 on a beach in France named "Omaha." He took part in the Battle of the Bulge. As a result of his war time experiences he could never fully enjoy 4th of July fireworks. The "rockets red glare" and "bombs bursting in air" remained too real to him till the day he died. Dad? He could appreciate freedom in a way that I'll never fully understand.

My blessing is a curse. I am blessed to have never pulled a trigger in anger. I am blessed to have never had a trigger pulled on me in anger. I am blessed by the sacrifices of millions who have gone before me or are serving to keep me free right now. Some of my best friends are numbered among them. I have friends serving on military bases right now. I have friends risking it all on foreign soil right now. And they understand fully what I cannot. They understand the great price that has been and is being paid so that I might live on in my cursed semi-ignorance.

And to those men and women, past and present, I say from the bottom of my spoiled heart ... thank you.