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In Addendum to July 4th:The Power of Family

So, I wrote a rather bleak post the other day on my feelings regarding celebrating Independence Day every July 4th. Basically, it was about how every year it feels more like a funeral or memorial service to me than a celebration of who we are now as a nation. I still stand by those words - but something happened to me this July 4th that made me want to add one more very important thing and offer at least a little glimpse of hope. It was very simple, but it impacted me. First, a little context. My wife is Russian, and we have two children - which, of course, makes them half-Russian (ethnically speaking). My wife got her American citizenship five years ago in 2019 after living here ten years. This Fourth of July, I had to work. My day job is as a 911 dispatcher, so I often have to work on holidays. The wife and kids stayed home. What brightened my mood that day was that I came home from a long day at work, not expecting really anything festive at home, and was greeted with a surprise. In front of my house flew the American flag - bold, beautiful and proud.

We never fly the flag. Or very rarely. It's just not something we do much, except on special occasions. Many Independence Days have gone by without us flying it. But that day, it stood - so quiet and serene, and so graceful. Interestingly, we were the only house on the street flying the flag, which seemed unusual. I stepped out of my car and just stood there, looking at it for a few silent moments. I gazed at it and pondered about the hallowed nature of the symbol. And I also thought it was so sweet of my immigrant wife to make sure the flag was flying that day and instill patriotic values into our children. After a few moments of grateful reflection, I stepped through the door of my house. I could see they had put up patriotic decorations over the fireplace. The grill was smoking in the backyard and the whole house smelled delicious as my wife was single-handedly preparing a Fourth of July feast for us all to enjoy. We had grilled chicken and pork, seasoned potatoes with herbs, a leafy green salad, grilled corn on the cob, home-made fudge brownies and Jell-O arranged into an American flag with strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream on top. I had not expected anything, but it was so nice to come home to my family, enjoy a great meal, and see them in a celebratory mood. My kids were excited for the fireworks we were going to set off later that evening. I felt so very grateful for them and for their spirit. So we sat down together and enjoyed the meal and I turned on some peaceful piano music set to patriotic songs while we ate. And later that night, we indeed set off those fireworks, as I let my oldest put on a show for us and light them all himself. Some neighborhood friends joined us and we took it all in together with the rest of the neighborhood as we enjoyed them setting off their fireworks, too. What I wanted to emphasize about all of this is just the power of family. I mean every word of my last post about the dire straits our nation is in and the intense, awful irony that exists each year as we celebrate our nation's independence. As a nation, we have strayed far from the principles of liberty and freedom. And like every nation, we are at times hypocritical in how we honor (or dishonor) those values in the actions of our government. It feels almost hopeless to return to those principles as a people. But if there's any hope - any hope at all - it can be found in your families and in your homes, like it was found in mine. The media, schools and our government might be banging a different drum - but in our homes, we can still keep the torch of liberty bright, hot and burning. With our love for each other, our friends and communities, and the founding principles of liberty in our modern times, there is at least some hope. And although that hope seems small - it is enduring, resilient and powerful. They say things get worse before they get better, and we live in dark and scary times for liberty - both in America and around the world. But if the love of freedom continues to exist in your homes and in your hearts, maybe, just maybe, the sun can rise again and shine down on us all.


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