Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day!

For those of us here in the U.S., today is a big day, the anniversary of Congress' official acceptance of the declaration of our country's independence. I'll be celebrating it in our traditional way: with a party I co-host at the Drake's.

The affair looks to be large this year--about 120 folks--so I'll be spending a lot of time working the grill. The grill is actually a very large pig cooker, on which I'll be putting over fire about 94 hamburgers, the same number of hot dogs, and 24 veggie burgers. Later in the day, I'll be working with a team of friends to put on a fireworks show. A busy day and an expensive one, but a fun one as well.

On this day, I always make time to sit alone and think briefly about what it must have been like to write this declaration, and what the declaration means to me. This year, for various reasons I've been thinking about the last line:

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
I have never been in the military--I was lucky enough to have the draft end not long before I would have had to report--but it has always struck me that those who have served have made this pledge more directly than the rest of us.

My stepfather, Ed, volunteered for World War II. That war cost him his teeth, two major wounds, shrapnel that stayed in him until he died, and dreams that cut him worse than the shrapnel.

My friend, Dave, came home from Viet Nam to a U.S. that treated him like dirt for doing what he believed to be a citizen's duty. He didn't consider Viet Nam a good idea, nor did I. He was drafted, and he served. He paid for that choice then, and he's still paying for it. He'll be paying for it until he the day he dies.

I'm very sorry that so many people were so horrible to him and to other Americans returning from that war.

I'm glad we're not treating our soldiers today the same way. Perhaps on this special day we could resolve never again to treat returning soldiers the way so many treated Dave. Such a resolution would not help him, but it would be good for those who in the future end up pledging their lives to serve this country.


John Lambshead said...

Hope you and Dave have a good day,

Mark said...

Thanks, John.


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