Today, July 4th, is observed as a legal holiday in commemoration of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Thomas Jefferson was chosen to write the draft. And, interestingly enough, while the country was celebrating its 50th anniversary, he died on July 4th, 1826. The declaration beautifully speaks of “self-evident truths” and our “right to the pursuit of happiness”.
Independence. Freedom. Truths. Happiness.
It is documented that I have a “right” to these great things! If I am lacking in any of them, or not striving towards them, then I am not living my life to the fullest. I would not be exercising my “right” to an incredibly magnificent life. A life that fits me, and who I am, perfectly. An example of what I mean by this would be, when my son was a teenager, I was concerned because he didn’t want to go to his high school football game that night. I asked him if he was happy. His wise reply to me was, “You know Mom, some people might not like my life, but I like my life and that is all that matters”.
We have been given the opportunity to have a life worth fighting for, if we so desire, from the men and women who have gone before us. People I have never had the honor to meet, have fought for me and my country. People who I do not know. Let’s be brave too, and ask ourselves something – Am I surrounded by people such as these in my life today? Do I have people in my life that would fight for me? Are they with me during my pursuit of happiness? Or seemingly against me and making it more difficult?
My brother has been MIA for 23 years now, but he never went to Vietnam. He is MIA because he lost his personal war against drugs and alcohol. I will never know if any one was there to fight for him the day he went missing. Going to war is dangerous. The choice of freedom and happiness has been given to me. But what about the war against alcohol and drugs? Is that just as dangerous? I believe so. I wonder how many men and women have lost a life well lived because of drugs and alcohol and that they were not with people who would fight for them.
I replace my negative thoughts of my big brother with a beautiful red, white and blue memory from when we were kids on the 4th of July, 1968. He had made a small go-cart out of wood all by himself. It took him weeks to build it. He painted it and decorated it with bright streamers. It was not until the day of the 4th of July parade in our town that big brother told me he wanted me to ride in his wooden car he had built by hand. I was thrilled. After I squeezed into that little decorated wooden car with the wobbly wheels, big brother pushed me for two miles in the exciting and fun parade. I was waving and waving at every one as they sat on the curb and clapped for us! A beautiful Independence Day memory to keep in my heart forever.
If my big brother was still around today, I know he would fight for my right for independence, freedom, truths and my pursuit of happiness. And I would definitely fight for him. I have been winning the war against alcohol for almost 23 years. My mom has been winning her war against alcohol for 21 years. My brother lost the war and has been MIA for almost 23 years. I choose to fight for a life that works for me.
Independence. Freedom. Truths. Happiness. It is a Happy 4th of July.