Independence Day

When I was a kid, every fourth of July my dad would get up extra early to read the Declaration of Independence (he also does this on Thomas Jefferson’s birthday). When I woke up we’d read the Bill of Rights or just talk about the significance of our country being based on values rather than heritage. He would tell me stories of our country’s forefathers and describe their great deeds and strong principles.

Then we would march outside, our own little two-person parade and hang our country’s flag proudly. I would lead us in the pledge of allegiance, my only real contribution to the morning’s festivities other than participation.

It didn’t take very long for me to find this sort of tradition to be pretty embarrassing. What if the neighbors saw us marching around the front yard? But for a few years, I had only awe for the history of our country and only total devotion to my father’s unusual patriotic rituals.

Tomorrow I will celebrate our country’s independence a little differently (kickball game, barbecue, hopefully some swimming) hours after my dad has already completed his dawn service. But hopefully we can all take a moment tomorrow, with or without a beer in hand, and remember the ideals that America was founded on rather than the politics that drive us today.

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