It’s July Fourth weekend here in the states and we are ready to celebrate. That means music, hotdogs, grilling out, swimming, vacationing, road trips, and being with friends and family. We love to eat BBQ, salute our flag as it waves in the breeze and finish off our nation’s birthday celebration with fireworks.

Celebration is as old as man himself. Why do we celebrate? We are happy, we are thankful, and we want to give some of that good feeling to those we live with and work with and care about. We want to give thanks to our Creator.

We celebrate the changing of the seasons, firsts in our lives (births, marriages (hi love in Milan!), victories on the battlefield and breakthroughs in the laboratory. We celebrate milestones. What is more exciting and more deserving of celebration than baby’s first step, first word and first birthday? We celebrate achievements. We get baptized. We graduate, we get doctorates, we earn another stripe.

We also need to celebrate the darker times, because they make us that much stronger. We celebrate not the death of a loved one, but the life that they so fully lived. We celebrate the mistakes we make, because we learn so much in making them. We celebrate defeats, because we know that rising from the ashes, living to fight on another day and becoming smarter and more seasoned is the long-term reward that we get for the short-term sting of the setback.

How do we celebrate? Parties, music, dancing, cake, BBQ, fireworks, poetry, monuments, bands, twenty-one gun salutes, and works of art that share the celebration with generations for centuries after the revelry has died.

Now, some might say that in America, as we approach this 241st birthday party for our nation, that we are hard pressed to find something to celebrate. We are divided, we are pitted against each other and we are struggling to remember what made us who we are.

I would say to those who try to dampen our spirits and forego the celebration that it is in the darkest times that we need to burn the candles on the cake of freedom the brightest. We need to let the white hot intensity of democracy sear itself into our eyes and our brains so that it can never be extinguished. We need to follow the example of our beloved Lady in the New York harbor and raise the torch of freedom high enough so that everyone who needs that taste of liberty can see it and follow it home.

Yes, even in the darkest times, we celebrate.

Happy birthday, America.


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