Happy Fourth, from a hot dog. . .


My brown labrador retriever came in the back door. He walked a few feet into the kitchen and plopped down on the cool wooden floor like a big bag of potatoes. “Man, it’s hot out there today”, he said. Well, he didn’t actually say that, but I could tell from the look on his face that was what he was thinking. Well sure, it’s hot, but it’s almost the 4th of July, and it’s supposed to be hot. “Well, you know what I’m thinking”, he went on, “fireworks or thunderstorms mean I’m gonna be up all night with dog anxiety issues, so get ready.” I tried to explain to him that the Georgia legislature needed some more tax money, and so they made it legal for everyone but the Grinch to sell fireworks now. It was too late, he had already rolled over and started his afternoon nap.

Well, whether you have a patriotic dog or not, next Tuesday marks the 247th birthday of what I think most scholars would agree is one of the most successful experiments in freedom and democracy in the history of this planet. From a population in July 1776, of two and a half million people to almost three hundred and thirty million today, the United States has gone through trial, tribulation, triumph and tragedy and still stands solid. There is a pride of purpose, a spirit that is uniquely and boldly American and a belief that our tomorrow is still destined to continue along a road that is strong, straight and true. Just stop, really stop for a minute and think how many countries in this world today look to the United States of America as the standard to which they aspire. No, we are not perfect, but we accept our mistakes when they occur, along with the corrections that need to be made. Unfortunately, we have to deal with a media today that thrives on controversy and division. That brand of news just sells better. But the truth of the matter is that the vast majority of citizens of this country are still reasonable, sensible folks who occupy the middle ground and don't take to the streets to burn, break and burglarize to express their "second amendment rights". There will always be issues that we differ on, and there will always be extremists hanging on way out there on the edge of the right and left. There will always be those who criticize using the word "exceptional" to describe the U.S.A. But another "truth of the matter" is the fact that there are more people every day who are planning and hoping and struggling to get to this country in search of a better life, than anywhere else in the whole world.

In the last few days, we have seen a dramatic example of how fortunate we are to live where we live. The ruthless turmoil and instability of Russia, the expansionist, authoritarian strategy of China, and the activities of other adversaries represent an on-going danger that, unfortunately, threatens every free and democratic country in this world. As we celebrate the nation’s birthday again this year with fireworks, entertainment and other activities, we must always remember that we can never take for granted what has been built here over the last 247 years. This country belongs to all of us, and we all share the responsibility to carefully honor, protect and treasure this gift we call the United States of America. Happy Fourth of July everyone!