Hi neighbors. This next week we will celebrate our nation's birth and our own identification with "what is American."
Most of us have celebrated the Fourth of July all of our lives with fireworks, family gatherings, big feasts and patriotic themed events.
This year I would like you to challenge your family and friends to see what concepts, actions, events and belief systems they hold as being all American.
How do you define an American person?
An American family?
An American patriot?
What makes this great country different from other countries, now and historically?
What do you treasure about the American lifestyle more than any other part of your heritage? Is it getting to vote for your leaders? Getting to apply for any job you want? Taking a vacation a thousand miles in any direction and still being within your own borders?
When you think of being patriotic what stirs your soul about America? The sight and sound of thousands of people standing to sing the National Anthem? The sight of fireworks blasting in the night sky? The unfurling of Old Glory in a parade or at a solemn ceremony?
What makes you an American?
Did you get the "luck of the draw" and simply be born here?
Did you have ancestors on the Mayflower?
Did your parents or grandparents leave their own country to come to America for a fresh start? Do you know about their story?
Do you pay your taxes? Did you serve in the military? Do you contribute to the local food pantry and patronize your locally-owned community businesses?
Give your family and friends a little quiz while the meat is sizzling on the barbecue this holiday.
Ask them to write some thought provoking answers to these questions:
I consider myself a good American because ....
American values are ....
To be patriotic means.
America stands for (what?) among other world countries ....
I don't feel (these people, these attitudes, these actions) represent or symbolize the American way of life.
The thing I most value about my lifestyle is ....
The things I most fear losing if America changes are ....
These are the ways I can make America stronger, more self-sufficient and more independent:
After the meal, and before the fireworks, sip some lemonade, munch on a slice of watermelon or stir up some homemade ice cream and talk about the answers everyone wrote down. Be nice now. We all need to remember that our own opinions are significantly important. But everyone has a right to their own opinions -- without being denied that second slice of watermelon.
Until the next time friends, remember to enjoy the holiday. And enjoy finding out what it really means to you and yours.
Be safe with those fireworks and stay out of the heat!