By Judy Reiss
I think by the time you read this, it will almost be the 4th of July. And maybe it is my age, but this year I am thinking more about the 4th than I have before. The wounds that the entire country felt when the moronic gunman shot and killed 49 people in a gay bar in Orlando have become even more despicable as the birthday of our country approaches. I am sure there are some of you who don’t understand what I mean, so I want to explain.
Our country was born so that all who lived here had the same opportunity. And that opportunity was Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness! Now you can probably interpret those words in many ways. And maybe not. For me those words have meant just what they say, I think. It means to me that I can do whatever I want to do as long as it doesn’t make it impossible for anyone else to have the same opportunity. As I look back over my life, I don’t think that I have taken advantage of everything that the country offered me, but I also think I have done my best and have enjoyed a pretty good life. I know I could have had more education that would have made me a little happier. I never have had much money but living in Vermont I was able to live a good life and most importantly, I was able to raise my children to become happy, healthy and terrific adults. Truthfully, I can’t think of anything else that would have made me happier.
I don’t know much about growing up in other countries, but I do know I was extremely fortunate to grow up in the United States during the time when a good life was available to all. In fact, as I look back, I think that I was living along with Andy Griffith in Mayberry USA! The second World War was over and at least for a short while peace reigned! I was able to walk to my friends’ houses, I didn’t expect my parents to furnish me with “big” toys and I didn’t miss them. I lived in a large neighborhood where all the kids played together and that included Hide n Seek, Kick the Can and lots of games that we made up as we went along. And our parents stayed in the house where they belonged and never ever tried to play with us or make up rules of the games that we were expected to follow! Life was good and we all knew that on the 4th of July, we would march in the town parade and listen to speeches about the history of our country. We knew that our flag was an important symbol of our country and every single one of us knew that the flag meant respect.
I think that it is time for us to go back to those days, as much as possible. We need to teach our children how to respect the flag and how to behave when it is carried by. And respect is a word that we don’t use enough these days. I don’t think it is the children’s fault they don’t know how to behave when a group of veterans march by. I don’t think that parents have taken the time to educate their children on how our country was made or how those same veterans actually fought in order to keep it the amazing country that it is.
As I have mentioned before, my family traces its heritage back to the Mayflower. And for my children it always was sort of a joke when they were young. So I took them to Plymouth, Massachusetts to visit the reproduction of the actual Mayflower and then to the Plymouth Plantation, that like Williamsburg, is an actual amazing working colony of where our ancestors lived in 1620 plus. And I have to tell you they loved it and no longer do any of them tease me about the Mayflower connection. The pilgrims who came on that ship and those that came shortly thereafter were heartier that I can even imagine. I hate to hike and never use the woods to go to the bathroom in if at all possible. But my ancestors would have considered an outhouse a luxury!
As the 4th of July approaches this year, find a book, and there are lots of them, that tells you about the history of our country. A good novel is great and really gives you an insight into the history of our great nation.
And I would be very remiss if I didn’t remind you that in this day and age, it is extremely important to keep your eyes and ears open to help root out the terrorists among us! I know it sounds like a movie script or a novel but unfortunately with the Internet available to everyone these days, the radical terrorist is no longer necessarily from a terrorist country. Nope the terrorist is very often home grown. And the only way to prevent them from building a bomb and killing American citizens is to figure out who they are. For all of my 77 years I never heard of crazies who were willing to kill themselves while they take you and me with them!
Now in 2016, we are so lucky to have the opportunity to live in such a wonderful place. And it is unfortunate that we have to participate in helping to find those who want to destroy what we have spent 260 years perfecting our country for us to live in.
Have a good time at the parade, eat a lot of potato salad and hot dogs, put on a little Citronella and watch the fireworks just for me! And think, at least for a minute, about those Pilgrims who made all this possible. And also think about those who want to destroy all that we hold near and dear. HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!