A day to be thankful


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Today is the 4th of July. Independence Day is high up on my list of favorite holidays. I love the history of the American Revolution. George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and company all fascinate me. The odds were formidable. Yet they put everything on the line to try to secure a better life for themselves and those yet to come. No, they didn’t do everything right. And no, they were not perfect people. But they came together and did something huge. They fought for and started the United States of America. This day celebrates that achievement. Plus, there are always cool fireworks. To be honest, my love of the holiday is mostly about the fireworks.

Last 4th of July the fireworks were not quite so cool. I’m sure they were as beautiful and sparkly as ever. However, in my house was a soldier on R&R from Afghanistan. He was at Salerno June 1st when the FOB (forward operating base) was attacked by insurgents. He was there when the explosion was big, loud, and meant that the bad guys were close at hand. So just over a month later, a night full of explosions was difficult to deal with.

As I closed the windows and turned on some music, I thought about the sound I was trying to cover up: the sound of something exploding. I was used to that sound. It was the 4th of July; it was fireworks. That was normal. Throughout my life fireworks were normal: 4th of July, New Year’s, a baseball game, or even just someone having a party. Even when the explosions weren’t fireworks, the sound was normal. Living near military bases it was cannons, artillery, or machine guns. But it was practice and normal, and, most important: nothing to fear. That night, I listened to the sound and thought how lucky I was to hear the sound of explosives and not fear, to have no bad memories associated with the noise.

I have never had to go to war. There are enough men and women who have volunteered for the job that I do not have to. I live in a country that is very safe. There are many countries around the world torn apart by war. That this country is not one of them is a testament to all who have served, past and present, those who volunteered and those who were drafted. It is also a testament to those guys long past who met in a stuffy room in Philadelphia in the summer of 1776 and the country they started.

This year I hope to remember the lesson I learned a year ago. That July 4th isn’t just about parades and fireworks. That it is Independence Day, a day to celebrate living in a country where I can choose what I do and how I live, to celebrate that I don’t know what war looks like. It is also a day to be thankful to all those who made all that possible.

 

Eagle River’s Lori Spears is the wife of a U.S. Army captain. Writer her at editor@alaskastar.com.

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