Growing up as a military dependent, I spent the first 10 years of my life celebrating Independence Day on foreign soil. As a kid, I never recall calling it Independence Day. To me, it was just the 4th of July. It meant going to a barbecue, swimming at the pool, and watching fireworks light up the sky with a rainbow of colors that rivaled that big box of 64 worn out crayons my sister touted with her. Normally, she'd be fast asleep before the fireworks display, but the thunderous claps would always jostle her from my fathers arms, allowing her to share in the airborne spectacle that lit up the night sky for miles and miles.
June 20, 1987 was when we came to the United States and eventually made it our home. No more military moves, although my dad spent 1 more year abroad before retiring. Tomorrow marks the 21st 4th of July I have witnessed on American Soil. As you get older, I realize the sense of what it means rings truer as each year passes. Over 200 years ago this country was fighting to be free. Free from tyranny, religious intolerance, and a cornucopia of other hardships that made life intolerable in "the old country". Americans wanted their freedom, to be unchained from the bonds that England had on the them. They won, and now, one of the youngest countries in existence, we are the nation that everyone comes to. The UN is here. Corporate headquarters for foreign companies are here. Even today, thousands of people flood the United States seeking refuge and a new life here, something they could never find back in their homeland.
Today, across this great expanse we call Earth, millions of people have no food to eat, place to sleep, and wars and droughts destroy their homes and farmland. Our country, which was once being bullied, now helps those that are in need. Are there certain things that our Government does that we may not agree with? Are certain things questionable or hard to swallow? Sure. But would you rather call any other place home? God bless you on the Fourth of July. Enjoy the hot dogs and lemonade, bottle rockets and roman candles, three day weekends and spending time with the family. But remember that we are the lucky ones and while we may be free to do what we want, others are out there, wondering what freedom truly tastes like.