Tag Archives: July 4th

The Banner of Freedom

3 Jul

I am posting a blog one day early this week. I hope to get ahead of the holiday festivities and fireworks to trigger deeper thoughts about why we celebrate this day.

Examine the flag as you never have before. The original prototype was not a printed design on a single piece of cloth like the ones we put out on our homes today. Thirteen stripes of alternating red and white sewn together symbolized much more than the thirteen colonies. It told of thirteen regional self-interests that were willing to compromise to promote freedoms and the common good. What they were proposing would no doubt face incredible opposition with little chance for a good outcome. But they were resolved to try.

The field of blue reminded them that they were a new concept—a wild experiment—in the family of nations in the world. They took their success or failure seriously. Looking into the future, they saw what impact their experiment could have world-wide.

Each star stitched onto the blue field represented an act of covenant. Individually, each state then and to this day has signed a social and moral contract to preserve and protect the original purpose and one another. Any attack against freedom in one state was against the whole.

Less than ninety years after the U.S. Constitution was signed, the definition of freedom and to whom it applied was tested. The Civil War claimed more deaths than all other wars we have been in combined. It succeeded in ending many aspects of the greatest blight and contradiction of our nation’s history.

While it expanded who qualified for freedom, it failed to give us a good working definition for freedom. The political strife we find ourselves facing in our nation today with progressives wrestling conservatives has its roots in the struggle our Founders fought over. This July 4th I call us to find a definition in our hearts that acknowledges freedom also requires self-limiting barriers. Total individualism is a failed stitch in the flag flying proudly above us that will unravel the whole.

And enjoy all the freedom expressed millenniums ago: there’s no law against doing good.

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Pondering the Fourth

4 Jul
Veterans Memorial, Aurora, Illinois

Veterans Memorial, Aurora, Illinois

Well, this is my 64th Fourth of July celebration, or at least the 64th time I have been around for one. I don’t think I did much in the official observation of the date for the first few of those years. Sadly, I remember very few Independence Days. Very little stands out in my mind on what took place the plus or minus 60 observances in which I would have been an active participant.

There is one, however, that claims a significant portion of my fond memories. Our family was young and not yet complete when we decided to head south to my hometown over the holiday. We had had our fill of neighbors shooting off fireworks and their guns into the wee hours of the morning of the next day, let alone those who began to celebrate days earlier. We longed for a quieter time filled instead with greetings and hugs from friends and family we had missed seeing in our absence.

That year we decided to observe the holiday in a little town not far from my hometown. I doubt the name Iuka, Illinois, means anything to you unless you grew up in the area. You probably aren’t even sure how to pronounce it correctly, but it was the hometown of my great-grandfather and many of my distant cousins. Population was well under a thousand, but the small size just meant they had more room for a heartfelt celebration with simpler fun.

Our boys who were not yet close to teens jumped into the festivities without hesitation. They won dishes in the nickel toss game, and one caught the greased pig only to have a bigger boy then grab the pig and knock my son off, stealing the prize. He was disappointed, but he knew who really caught the pig. He reveled in his victory just the same. As for me, I was all smiles being with family I had not seen in years and eating homemade ice cream which beats any big name brand you can suggest.

Their fireworks display was much smaller and shorter than we were used to because the small town had to raise money in order to buy them. Unlike the larger cities that can create room in their budgets, Iuka held fundraising events in preparation for the Fourth. Maybe that helped them enjoy it more. They had to put more thought into what they would do and why.

That’s what I want to leave you with today. Put some thought into what you do today and especially into the why. Let your revelry sink deeper into your being and deeper into your children’s understanding.

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