Monday, July 03, 2006


Mel Gibson's war-painted face in the movie Braveheart comes to mind. His anguished freedom cry as he leads the battle charge, is one you don't easily forget. Freedom costs. Just look through the pages of history books. Wherever there is freedom, there has been great pain and sacrifice.

Tomorrow we celebrate Independence Day in the United States. Picnics, parades, and fireworks displays will abound. Offices close. Families and friends gather to barbecue hamburgers and hot dogs, slather butter on fresh corn-on-the-cob, and munch juicy watermelon.

I love this holiday--the great food and fun times with friends. But I'm also mindful of the freedom we're privileged to enjoy in this country. Randy and I spent 3 years on Okinawa, Japan with the Air Force in the late 70's. What an adventure to be there as a young family. Our sons were seven and four years old when we boarded a Flying Tigers flight in SanFrancisco for the Orient.

Living in another culture offers a multitude of learning opportunities, and I wouldn't trade our experiences. But we missed home. Silly things like TV commercials that were absent from the armed forces station, but showed up with taped programs from the States such as Dallas. (Remember when everyone wanted to know who shot J.R.?) Those Coca Cola commercials or Doublemint Gum (Two--two--two mints in one!) gave us glimpses of ordinary life back home.

When we went to the movie theater on base, as a preview to the featured film, the National Anthem played against a backdrop of Americana from sea to shining sea scenes. I always got choked up with homesickness. Dorothy was right. There really wasn't any place quite like home. Kansas or otherwise.

Many years later, I can still remember the rush of emotion I felt when our plane nosed through the clouds, and the incredibly beautiful Golden Gate Bridge came into view. Home to the land of the free and the home of the brave.

We won't light any fireworks or even sparklers here tomorrow. The fire danger is too great in this hot, dry climate. But there's a part of me that will shout at the top of my lungs. "Freedom!"

Happy 4th of July!



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