Independence Day is one of my favorite holidays. Not necessarily because of the traditions, but because of what it means. I have patriotism pulsing through my veins, a passion for my country that I've never really found the words to express. I have so many amazing experiences from my life that I know have contributed to this. For as long as I can remember, I would wake up on the 4th to the best of John Philip Sousa blaring so loudly you could hear it down the street. My dad would march us all outside as we raised the flag and said the Pledge of Allegiance. To this day, he raises the flag up every morning, and takes it down every night. He was a fine example to me of what it means to love your country. For four years I spent my summers working at Boy Scout Camp where every morning I stood at attention as young scouts raised the flag, then stood in salute as we recited the Pledge. Every Friday evening I would listen as "The Ragged Old Flag" by Johnny Cash was recited, followed by singing the National Anthem and a flag retirement ceremony. When I was 17 my closest brother joined the Marine Core, and left to serve his country- not to mention my 2 brother-in-laws who were already in the service. When I was 18 I went on a music tour through Europe...I could never make it without crying when the band would play Stars and Stripes Forever and I realized what it meant to me, and how much I loved sharing it with the people there- it was a crowd favorite; and after a performance in Germany, a women from Florida came up and enthusiastically told us she has never been more proud to be American. I'm sure the next experience I will have to add to my list will be my trip to China, and realizing what life is like without the freedoms we enjoy.
The very best 4th of July I have ever had was the summer I was 17 working at Scout camp. It was a weekend, so there were no scouts. It was night time and we were having the most incredible rain/thunderstorm ever. There in the secluded Yellowstone forest, the staff sat together inside the lodge singing by the light of one candle. We sang several patriotic songs, but I particularly remember while singing Battle Hymn of the Republic being overcome by the realization of what it all meant to me. No fireworks, no barbecues, just a humble setting in this incredible land having the freedom to be who I wanted to be.
Mankind has been fighting for freedom since the beginning of time. We are more lucky than we will ever realize. I love my country and could never repay the inspired founding fathers who have made this life possible for all of us, and the men and women who continue to protect us today .