"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected,and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."
- Ronald Reagan (1911 -2004)
My Dad circled the cousins, poised his finger in the air, waited for the chatter to quiet. He waited for reverence. He talked about respect, taught them flag etiquette, then together, they pulled rope and stars and stripes.
The children flew our banner of freedom.
For the last few years I have "survived" the nation's birthday. It seemed I was always juggling two new babies, racing back to the house to nap someone or feed someone - myopically (but necessarily) focused on my children. Who's hungry? Who's tired? Who needs something? Fireworks were only a welcome distraction. But this year, I realized these growing "babies" have an inheritance and they are asking what it means - what is freedom?
This year I had time to consider the blessing of living in this great country, to remember the God that formed it, preserved it.
James Madison wrote,
"It is impossible for the pious man [or woman] of reflection not to perceive... a finger of the Almighty Hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief."
Doug ran the Freedom Half Marathon. The air was humid but cloud-cover held back the hot sun. We opted to let the kids sleep in rather than caravan them down to the Capitol for his big finish. It was a good choice. The girls were just rubbing their eyes by the time he ran in. But I missed being there to cheer him on. So here's a shout-out hon. "Yeah Doug!"
We made it to my parents' home in time for the flag ceremony and breakfast. Then we stayed the day.
My sister and her husband brought this giant slip and slide. Yes, I said giant for a reason.
The kids slid fast on their bellies, knees, and backs. Dish soap on the tummy made for even slicker speed.
I slid too (minus the dish soap). And what do I have to show for it? Sore stomach muscles and a grass burn the size of a sand dollar on my right buttock. Think carpet burn sting with visible red lines, like someone took a plastic comb to your behind.
Who knew grass could burn?
After a few runs I fixed my form so that I hopped onto my feet (not gracefully I might add) before streaking across the grass on my tush. But the damage was done. And later, it required Neosporin and a 4 X 4 gauze to sit comfortably. Great fun though. I'd do it again.
We had lunch, played in the water some more, made crafts with the kids, visited. I love being with my sisters. This is my sister Deb with her little miracle, Michael.
This is my sister Sarah with the boys. She and her husband Lance are so good to my kiddos. They don't have their own yet so their hands are more free, and my children adore them.
Here's most of us, spread out on the front lawn for pre-dark fireworks. We started early so all those sleepy heads could get to bed before midnight. My sister Rachel (in the middle) planned the days' events. A thoughtful thing to do, for a beautiful single girl in her twenties, who could have been busy with a number of other activities.
Poppa Bob put on a pretty good show, especially since Utah lifted the restriction on aerial fireworks this year. (Is this a good thing? I'm still not sure). But the kids loved it.
My brother's wife, Shirlee (above left), was here with her children too. They are currently living in Kuala Lumpur. We love it when they come to visit because they stay for weeks.
Shirlee, who is super-talented, made this darling banner and headed up all the crafts for the kids.
After flipping burgers and turning hot dogs my Dad came inside and we loaded plates. He prayed over the food then told us how overwhelmed he felt by the blessings sent his way, the abundance of his life. "You've made me so happy" he said to his children and grandchildren.
We pass on gratitude, explain the nature of freedom, tell the stories of those we knew who sacrificed. God has given us so many gifts and I count freedom as one of the greatest.
"Can the liberties of a nation be sure when we remove their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people, that these liberties are a gift from God?" - Thomas Jefferson
Eliza painted this version of the flag with a single pink flower growing beneath her red, white and blue.
Long may it wave.