4th of July is More than Fireworks and Bayonets

I find it frustrating that we often meld 4th of July with Veteran’s Day with Memorial Day.  

I believe Memorial Day is the day we honor those who gave their lives to defend our country.  Veteran’s Day is the day we honor those willing to give their lives to defend our country.  4th of July is the day we honor the “why” we are a country.

On Independence Day we celebrate the claim of our founders that all of God’s children have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

We have sometimes disagreed about the “how” of realizing the “why” of the Declaration of Independence.  To some extent, it is our freedom to disagree.

I think the hopes and dreams so well articulated in the Declaration of Independence are beyond the bayonet.  It is another source of frustration with the melding of the three holidays afore mentioned.  That focus is too finely placed upon the military and its ability to destroy the combatant.  I am inspired by Washington at Valley Forge, by Grant at Shiloh, by Chamberlin at Little Roundtop, by Patton relieving Bastogne, as examples of my admiration for our military.  Beyond the technology, our military has fostered a quality of leadership, creative initiative from the boot up, and a forward inclusivity that is worthy of study.

For the majority of our shared life as the United States of America, we had a tradition of a small peace time military.  Today it could be argued that we are no longer protected by the geography of oceans.  Before that argument is made, we would benefit from a reflection upon the value of a small peace time military. How else might those dollars benefit our great nation?

Even more, we would benefit from a meaningful musing of the goal we seek to achieve on the Fourth of July.  The right of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness by all God’s people is a powerful hope and dream.  

Is the only avenue of reaching this dream the path of military might?

Would diplomacy be a worthy tool?  Mutually beneficial economic relations could be another street to the satisfaction of our founders declaration.  Interfaith mission work is a possible means of building good community.  Educational exchange opportunities could expand the scope of our founders dreams.  Entrepreneurs create new horizons.

I am the offspring of French Huguenots who escaped persecution in Europe in search of freedom in a new land.  My family tree includes those who have served in our military since the Revolution.  I am extremely proud of my family’s service to defend our freedom.

My life journey has taught me that deconstruction or destruction has limitations.  At some point, construction is a more effective means to realize hopes and dreams.  

The generation that won WWII was the same generation that fostered the recovery from the Great Depression, built an infrastructure that served generations, and so much more.  We often called them the “Builder Generation” not the “Military Mighty Generation.”  

The 4th of July is more than fireworks and bayonets.  It is an opportunity to remember why we are a country.  Our past, including our founders, has flaws.  The hope and dream of every human deserving life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is worthy our honor.