Another Birthday, Another Year Past

July 6, 2009 at 3:48 pm Leave a comment

Well this has been another big holiday weekend. Lots of hamburgers were eaten, watermelon consumed, and tons of fireworks lit off. Even a gallon or two of ice cream was consumed. America had another birthday. Two hundred and thirty-three now, to be exact. She’s got a few aches and pains but overall the ol’ girl is doing pretty well for her age. I hope it was a happy one for you and that you were able to spend a little time in reflection as to what this country means to you.

I didn’t spend a designated block of time in reflection; mine came and went throughout the weekend as I spent time with family and friends of all ages. There was a lot of talk about the “good ol’ days”. Many memories where shared by the older members. Many of the younger ones could have cared less and of course the toddlers where firmly grounded in the present as they entertained the rest of us with their cuteness.

Yet, I did think of the past. How, as a child growing up post WWII, I was exposed to one of the greatest period of times in our history. It was a time of piece, prosperity, and happiness. I can remember growing up in a post-war subdivision outside of St. Louis. How we didn’t have air conditioning, color TV and computers where the things of science fiction. On my street all were in the same boat economically. Few had a new car much less a second one. Most of us belonged to hard working blue-collar families. We lived in small three bedroom tract homes and played outside all through the summer heat without a thought to the Cold War that was shaping our lives.

Now those times are over with. Now we live in an entirely different world. The Cold War is over but we find ourselves fighting a new threat. Instead of Dad bringing home the bacon it takes Mom as well and sometimes the both of them have to work two jobs. Houses are much bigger now and are climate controlled. Most of us flee to the inside when temps exceed 80 degrees. We have so many gadgets and stuff to distract us and entertain us. Gone are the days a child could spend all day watching bugs in the woods. Now they fight great big animated ones on a big flat screen.

I’m not saying the past was better or the present is the best all I’m saying is that things are different now. We could argue for days as to how we got here and if it’s a good or bad thing. It doesn’t matter. What has passed is over with. Gone. The Past will never to come back. We can’t change it either. What is real and important is this moment and what we do with it. Our forefather’s took their moment in time and built this country. They framed a constitution that despite efforts to thwart it and make end runs around it, it still stands firm as the foundation of our country. They fought a war to free themselves from tyranny. They didn’t expect some other country to come in and fight it for them. No, they took up arms and fought it themselves and paid the price with their own blood.

July Fourth commemorates that one moment in time when a group of men decided to seize the day and make a difference. We have that opportunity now. We can either wallow in self-pity about the state of our nation and hope someone will come and save us, OR we can seize our moment in time and make our country stronger, make it happier, make it the shining example to the rest of the world by living within our means, by expecting our government to do the same, by treating our fellow countrymen with dignity and respect and by asking what we can do for our country instead of asking what our country can do for us (thank you John F. Kennedy for those words of wisdom).

It starts with we the people, the individuals, just as it did 233 years ago. It starts with us and it expands to our neighbors, our neighborhoods, our towns and villages and spreads across this great land. It starts by each and every individual taking responsibility for his or her actions. It starts by stopping the finger pointing and partisanship. It starts by each and every one of us that proudly calls ourselves an American, refusing to accept anything less than greatness from our country and ourselves. That is what July 4th is all about, seizing the moment to be great in everything we do as individuals, groups, and as a nation.

You can simply start by saying “hi” to your neighbor or by looking in on an elderly acquaintance. Start by turning off the TV and sitting out in your yard. Yeah, you’ll sweat but you’ll feel good about it and you’ll get to meet the great people around you. Start by not withdrawing from society but by embracing it. Benjamin Franklin said it best: “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately”. It’s just as true, if not more so, today.

Now is the time to support your family, neighbors, your community, and local businesses it whatever way you can. Whether it be taking care of your yard so your neighborhood looks good or volunteering your time to see that the less privileged get a good meal. This country needs all individuals to act and help one another in a spirit of cooperation as we take this great nation into a new and exciting phase. Forget about our differences, let us focus on what binds us together, this great country of ours.

We can find ourselves in the worst of times or the best of times it depends on we, the individuals. We decide whether we go forward or backwards.

Next week I’ll address further how it’s a matter of attitude if we sink or swim.

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Loss is never a good thing The Mind is a Powerful Thing to Waste

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