where the writers are
Late Night Musings Following the Fourth of July

I was sorely tempted, on the Fourth of July, to post The Pledge of Allegiance as my Facebook status update. Really. The whole thing.  I don't think people really consider it.  I wonder how many people think about the meaning of the day, of those who died so that we may be free to express our opinions, to choose to practice our religion, to vote in elections. It seems to have denigrated into backyard barbecues, drunken fools shooting off illegal fireworks in backyards, trips to the beach, and parties. But does anyone take a moment to say Thank You, to consider why they can celebrate and/or make fools of themselves as they choose?

Maybe living so close to Boston I feel the spirit of Independence Day more vividly. 

I think something we've lost along the way is the most meaningful. When I was a child, every schoolday started with The Pledge of Allegiance. I wonder how many kids today even know the words, let alone understand them.

I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag of The United States of America, and To The Republic for Which it Stands, One Nation, Under God, Indivisible, With Liberty and Justice for All.

If we do not pledge our allegiance, what good are we? If we don't vote, what kind of citizens are we? If we do not follow the laws of the land, are we not criminals?  

I love this country. My mother was born in New Hampshire. My father came here from Europe. He was about 12 years old and went right to work. He came with his father and one of his brothers and it was he who worked to earn the money to bring the rest of the family over.  He did it the right way.  He didn't ask for a handout. He and his family learned the language, worked hard as did my mother and her family, and wouldn't have considered coming illegally.  I never could understand what part of "illegal" people just don't get. I feel as if those people are spitting on everyone who did it legally as well as the graves of my father and his family and the others who went through proper channels. 

Does anyone really care to explain the words of the Pledge of Allegiance to their children? Are they teaching their children what it means to be an American? How lucky they are and the responsibility that goes with it? That means obeying all of the laws, serving Jury Duty and exercising our right to vote. Do they understand the meaning of a Republic? 

I think with all of the things that have changed in this country, too much is taken for granted.  I think we have a huge responsibility to our country to keep the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and the Pledge of Allegiance in mind and to be sure that the next generation understands the ramifications of not knowing, of not respecting our country, our flag and our freedom and those who fought to keep it that way.  We owe them a huge debt of gratitude. And we have a responsibility to ensure that we maintain our freedom, that our politicians understand that it is "We the People..."

Patriotism seems to have gone out of style.  Not for me. The older I get, the more I appreciate what the United States of America is about, the foundation our Founding Fathers carefully and thoughtfully built for us.  I'd like to see more unabashedly patriotic people.  I'd like to see discourse without dissention.  Freedom of speech for everyone, not just for those who happen to agree with each other.  Too many people seem to have lost that ability, too. 

So, while I'm rambling I'm going to say that I hope next Fourth of July finds us a more thoughtful, more understanding, more caring, more patriotic people, and far more grateful for what we have.