My apologies.  For unknown cyber reasons, this just hit my inbox tonight.  Katrina, 7/7/03


Donít Forget

Carolyn Aspenson 

This past Memorial Day we took our children to the local Veterans Cemetery. I didnít realize there would be a Memorial service honoring those whoíve secured our freedom. I was in awe. Not only because of the service but because of the massive amounts of tombstones in the ground. Each and every one of them was marked with the name of a man or women who either died serving our country during a war, or served in the military maintaining peace during peaceful times. Hundreds and hundreds of tombstones flowed in lines along the grass. They patterned circles, squares and even stars. Pilots flying above could make out the patterns from 30,000 feet because they were simply humongous!  As I walked by each stone, I read about the person lying beneath. I read about their wife, their husband, their children. I read about how they helped my family. I often stood breathless at the site of lives cut short - 19, even 18 year olds dying so that I could stand there that day and walk in freedom. 

What will you be doing on Friday, July 4th? Weíll be swimming, cooking out and watching the firework display that evening at the local park. Once we arrive home weíll shoot off our own (illegal) fireworks much to the dismay of the local police whoíll undoubtedly drive by shining their spot lights in our yard. My kids will giggle, my husband will feel like the rebel he thinks he once was and Iíll secretly pray the cops donít come down our street and knock on our door. But Iíll smile.  

Iíll smile because it will be fun and Iíll smile because Iím grateful my children and their parents are alive and well and able to play freely in the backyard. Iíll smile up at the heavens in honor and with great respect for all of the people who have sacrificed their 4th of July parties with their kids and their families so that I could enjoy mine.  And you, yours.  Iíll smile knowing that I have the freedom to walk outside with my face uncovered, no numbers burned into my arms and no fear of a bomb falling at me from above. Iíll smile knowing that my children are the safest children in our world, which they can play outside and not have to carry guns to protect themselves. Iíll smile knowing that my parents are safe, though not likely shooting off fireworks. They likely werenít even up for the fireworks in their town! But Iíll smile knowing theyíre home, safely tucked under their covers just like they have been for many years before.  

Life may not be perfect here in America. We have conflict, unemployment, crime, drugs, disease, anger beyond comprehension and at times just plain old idiots running around thinking they donít have to abide by the same laws we do. No, itís not perfect here in America.  Then again, itís not perfect in any other country. But weíve got the best of all countries when it comes to freedom. Weíve got people like Natalie Maines from the Dixie Chicks saying Ďnot niceí things about George Bush because she CAN! Sure, I didnít like what she said but I like that we live in a country where people are free to voice their opinion (okay, so she wasnít in our country, but you get my point) and people in turn, are free to choose to not buy her CDís. That my friends, is what freedom is about. Freedom to choose, freedom to speak, freedom to decide. Only in America.  

Please, this July 4th, donít forget the people, dead and alive, who gave us the ability to make those choices. Look up to the Heavens with me and smile.  

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