When I think about the Fourth of July, of course I think about BBQs, swimming pools, and hanging out with friends and family. But I also think about my freedoms and how blessed I am to have been born here and live here in the United States. Since I had my first son, I feel like I have thought about this holiday differently – and not just because I can’t drink the way I used to (!), but because my priorities have changed. What is important to me has changed.
First, I want my children to have the best opportunities life can give. I want them to believe they can do anything they set their mind to. I feel like every parent wants this for their child, but in some countries, as much as they want this for their children, it will never be true. In some countries people cannot go to school, speak their minds, or work in specific jobs. They don’t have the opportunities we have here to thrive. Mothers and fathers risk their lives to provide basic needs for their children like shelter, medical care, or food. They travel distances with nothing on their backs but their child, escaping unstable governments searching for a safer life. Parents in underdeveloped countries walk miles to bring their sick children to the closest hospital. These are challenges some face daily. I think about our freedoms, our educational opportunities, our health care resources, and I am thankful.
I also think about my family and how much they mean to me. Every day, there are men and women who are far away from their families, fighting and sacrificing for our country. I think about their loved ones, their children. I think about all the “firsts” they may miss while they are away and how that must break their heart. I think about the husbands and wives who are left behind at home. It must be incredibly challenging to go about “normal” life while you are worried if your loved one will return home safely. I am lonely when my husband travels for work for just a few days! I also think about those whose loved ones never come home, and those who do come home, but suffer from PTSD or with other lifelong injuries. These are real sacrifices. These people are real heroes.
As I have gotten older, I just seem to appreciate our country and those who have sacrificed for it more. I will hug my husband and my sons a little tighter today. I am truly blessed to be an American.