Saturday, July 04, 2009

On Independence Day

Independence Day was a favorite holiday as a child because it usually meant special activities. We spent a few days at the ocean, watched or lit fireworks, visited some friends at the lake, or have a family gathering at a park. These celebrations weren't overly special, but activities that created anticipation. What does Independence Day mean to me and what will my dear wife and I teach our children?

It's not part of my belief system that my freedom comes from living in the United States, but my freedom comes from God in Jesus Christ. It's still a blessing to live in the United States, but it is not the source of my freedom. I don't attach that freedom to the military or any public servant--but I ascribe to the teaching of Martin Luther that good government is a blessing from God.

I am not an anti-government type, nor do I believe that government is a solution to all problems, even though the zealots from either end of the spectrum seem to enjoy the pigeon-hole process. I do appreciate the positive contributions to my life from the military and leaders in the United States Government. The path of my family changed dramatically when my Grandfather served in World War II on the U.S.S. Washington. With his GI Bill he moved to Washington State and became the first person in his family to graduate from college--a degree in journalism from the University of Washington. He met my grandmother before starting college--another family without a college graduate. We don't have a lot of college graduates in our family, but "furthering education" has been a family value since the GI Bill. Could my Grandfather have gained a college education without help from the US Government? Maybe, but not likely. The GI Bill provided opportunity for many military men and women, making an investment in the future of the nation. I believe the GI Bill was a great investment for the good of the country and its people. Though I can be persuaded to believe that government shouldn't be involved in certain things, someone will have a hard time convincing me that the government is not an important player in investing in people for the common good. Through the GI Bill my Grandfather learned what was possible, and was given the resources to do it. Our family tree was changed.

I met a man in South Dakota Ranch Country who said his biggest regret in life was that he didn't use his GI Bill. I hope that the government is not the sole source of opportunity, but I'm glad that it takes part. Independence Day is another reminder of gratitude in this country for our opportunities. But my freedom comes from God.

I'm not sure yet what we will teach our children--but we had a special day playing at the beach with friends and watching fireworks from our car. The glass and metal barrier of the vehicle gave some security to our oldest daughter who doesn't "like the booming fireworks." I think I will tell them stories of how Americans in her family have contributed to the good of the world--maybe their are other days we can offer critique, but Independence Day can be a day can be a day of reflection about those contributions.

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