Good evening, fellow Americans. Tonight, we are free. I can say, with complete and heartfelt gratitude, thank you, God for allowing me to live in this country. I have to tell you, sometimes I wonder why God gave me the privilege of living here. The United States in a truly amazing place.
My son has never seen fireworks before tonight. He heard the noise that reminded him of thunder and, not wanting him to be afraid, I stood with him by the window so he could see them. They really are beautiful. My hard-working compatriots bought them with their hard-earned money to celebrate the country where they live. I have seen my neighbors. At least half of them are immigrants, as are my in-laws. I have traveled little in my life, but I visited my husband’s homeland, Brazil, last year. I can tell you, this country is amazing. There are very wealthy people in other parts of the world who, with all of their money, cannot enjoy the same conveniences we do here. And by we, I mean the working middle class.
I asked him, “Do you know why there are fireworks tonight?” He answered confidently, “I don’t know.” I smiled and thought about my reply. How do you explain to a three year-old what independence means? We thank God every night for our food, our water, our house, our family, our Church, but not often for our country. Then, it hit me. That’s it.
“We are celebrating because we are free. We are free to worship God here where we live. We are free to celebrate Him.” My son’s face lit up as a whistling comet burst into green twinkling stardust. “We can celebrate God!” Yes, my son, we can. We are free.
There are a lot of people who do not appreciate the freedom we experience in this country. For many years, I did not fully appreciate it. I heard stories about Jews who hid in basements and attics to live and how our people once held secret services so our heritage would not be found out, but somehow it did not click that I did not experience that because I lived in America. I had thought everyone was free. Freedom was a gift of the present age, rather than my present location.
Today, Christians are murdered in every conceivable way you can imagine. They are not killed in secret, but in public squares. Their bodies are not given back to the ground, but left in dishonor on the streets, so the populace will remember the reality in which they live – they are not free. I use Christians as an example, but I acknowledge there are many other groups of people who will go to sleep tonight in fear for their lives, with no hope that their governments will give them solace.
You can say a great many things about the wrongs this country has committed. You are free to say as many of them as you wish because someone died to give you that right. Tonight, as I write this post by the light of the rocket’s red glare, there are men and women all over the world, on the ground, underground, on the sea, in the air, who wear a uniform and fight for my freedom. Sadly, disgracefully, many of my countrymen malign them even for making the decision to put the uniform on in the first place, but I thank God for them. I am ashamed to say I do not often think to pray for the military that keeps me safe or their families who sacrifice, not just lives and limbs of their loved ones, but time away from family members, sleep while others lay with their loved ones beside them, and peace of mind knowing their loved one is out of harm’s way. May God bless you and your families – truly, may God bless each and every one of you who served, serves and will serve. You give me this gift of freedom that can never be paid for. You pay for it so I can have it for free.
It’s loud tonight. I pity the dog. But it’s safe. I have never been so proud to hear so much noise outside. I’m surprised at myself because I am normally quite miffed about noise late at night. Maybe this is God’s gift to me on this Independence Day. Gratitude is a gift. I thank God that what I hear are fireworks and not gunfire coming for my village. I thank God that the rocket’s red glare tonight is a firework and not a missile. I thank God tonight that, while I have it, I can enjoy freedom.
The future is uncertain. Nothing is promised. Tonight, your soul may be required of you. Let us thank God that we are here. Let us ask Him to bless our country and give our leaders wisdom, for this is what God has charged us to do in the land where we sojourn. Let us show gratitude to God for allowing this to be the country in which we live.
Thank you, God, for this, my country. God bless America.
Photo credit: http://www.unsplash.com – Ryan Wong