It is likely you may be attending one of the thousands of 4th of July festivals, parades, or fireworks displays celebrating America this weekend. Or perhaps you will forego the large events and celebrate with a backyard barbecue or a day at the lake, or any of the myriad traditions Americans have established for the 4th of July.
When I was little, the holiday usually meant a day on the lake. My parents loaded me and my sister in the car, loaded the boat with coolers and all the supplies needed for a day in the sun, and off we went on the 1½ hour trip to our favorite lake, usually to meet up with family and friends.
Mom would back the boat down the launch with my dad at the helm, ready to back the boat off the trailer. As soon as the boat was free, Mom would drive to the parking area, lock the truck, and the three of us would head down to the dock where Dad was waiting.
I will always remember how exhilarating it was when Daddy gunned the engine and we sped off across the lake. That first rush of wind in my face always made me laugh out loud. I imagined we were flying. I felt free.
And freedom is the word most associated with the 4th of July, even though the holiday is named for the day Americans officially claimed Independence from British rule. Independence Day. Those two words bring thoughts of fireworks, family gatherings, and memories, but also cause me to reflect on the work we do at Rebuilding Together. Every time a volunteer shows up to help a neighbor in need we are helping that individual take back their independence. Each time we build a wheelchair ramp, we are building a bridge to independence. Every single grab bar we install helps someone keep their dignity and remain independent.
I wish we could send up fireworks each and every time our services allow someone to maintain their independence. Volunteers would walk out of the house, toolboxes in hand, as hundreds of people waved flags and cheered because someone was getting to celebrate their own personal Independence Day!
I know, that scenario is a bit of a stretch, but wouldn’t it be fun?
Over the weekend I will attend a cookout, laugh with friends, and maybe see some fireworks in celebration of July 4th. I will celebrate America’s Independence and be grateful I have a job that makes every day someone’s Independence Day.