There is perhaps no other place on earth where the annual celebration of the birth of a nation is done in such a unique way. We don't line up our armaments and parade them past the White House with everyone in America cheering our collection of long-range missiles with nuclear warheads as thousands of troops goose-step down Pennsylvania Avenue.
Instead, we have picnics in the backyard and we light off fireworks. At least we used to light off fireworks - now Utah is so bone-dry only the bone-heads light off fireworks.
We celebrate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776. It was no small feat for a fledgling group of diverse colonies to agree to condemn the sitting King of England in such scathing terms. We opposed what we believed was tyranny and taxation without representation. Funny thing is THAT form of taxation doesn't even hold a candle to the tyranny one could assert now exists in America WITH representation. But that's a story for another day, isn't it?
I celebrate the glorious gift of freedom on this July 4th. I celebrate the ability to put some thin-sliced marinated beef briskets on the grill with chocolate brownies and congo squares and grape ice cream for dessert. I remember and I am grateful for the sacrifice of so many men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice for my family so we could enjoy one another's company as we gather at the Ranch this weekend.
I'm grateful to all those who fought in the heat of the summer and the bitter cold of a Valley Forge winter during the Revolutionary War to give life to the words of the Declaration of Independence.
It was 150 years ago this week in which the bloodiest battle of the Civil War was fought in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Both sides fielded courageous advocates for what their version of freedom looked like.
War-worn and long-postponed plans for life were the common lot of my father's generation. Some called it the "Greatest Generation." That global conflagration, once considered the war to end all wars, was only the prelude to a sustained period of years that saw unparalleled growth and expansion of freedom's blessings worldwide.
As I grow older it is increasingly more difficult to take the hard work and sacrifice of all those who came before me for granted. I stir with emotion every time I sing the National Anthem. I tear up when I think about the flag that flies a few feet from my home and realize what it represents in blood, toil and courage.
I checked the other day about who reads this blog. I've had readers represented in 22 countries so far. To them I would say, don't give up on the ideals America represents. I pray all may remember the sacrifice of so many who have gone before to make freedom a reality beyond the ideal.
I have freedom to get up every day of my life in America to try and make something good happen, something that but for me would not exist.
I have the unrequited joy of seeing my children and grandchildren succeeding and prospering as adults who are making a contribution for good to their own families, their country, their Church and their employers. They are amazing people who emerged from a simple idea, "Patsy, I love you, will you marry me?"
I am only beginning to understand what it means to be a father, but understanding the meaning that goes behind "Grandpa" is so much easier and fulfilling.
My wife of 44 years is growing older at my side day by day, and as we laugh about our deteriorating body parts, we can share not only that but so much more together in relative peace and tranquility compared to so many others in our strife-riddled world.
Oakley, Utah, not far from where we live, puts on a stellar parade every year. The highway is closed all morning long, then the fabulous new rodeo arena sponsors the Oakley Rodeo at night for a continuous feast of Americana at its best. There is nothing to compare with John Wayne's booming voice over the loudspeakers declaring "America, Why I Love Her."
The Woodland Ward sponsors the annual 4th of July breakfast, complete with flag raising ceremony and a huge American breakfast of pancakes, eggs, hash browns, bacon, ham and all the fixin's any way you want it.
I will never tire of celebrating the 4th of July. To be sure, America has her problems, and many predict her demise, but I choose to remain optimistic about her future. As long as God's children can muster enough gratitude for blessings received, we will continue to find a majority who value the cause of freedom. .
Happy 4th of July!