As you prepare to shoot fireworks and eat a lot of barbecue in celebration of the Fourth of July, please remember to take the time out to remember the contributions made by those who sacrificed their lives for the freedoms we enjoy today.
Growing up in the South, I know firsthand how important it is to celebrate the lives of those who paved the way for me to earn a degree at the University of Alabama and vote in my first presidential election when I turned 18. Just as it is appropriate to honor our veterans and those in the military currently serving overseas, we should also recognize those who fought for our freedom on the home front. Thank you, Martin Luther King Jr. for never giving up on your dream.
Thank you, Susan B. Anthony for devoting your life to women’s rights. Thank you, Ida B. Wells for inspiring me to pursue a career in journalism. As I have my own heroes to thank, I am sure each and every one of you has someone you want to recognize on this day.
Through my involvement with Delta Xi Phi, I have met so many wonderful women who are striking out on their own paths to change the world and I wish them the best of luck on their journey. Being a member of a multicultural sorority has opened my eyes to the abundance of cultures that exist outside my Southeastern United States bubble. I have had my taste buds opened to Indian cuisine.
I have learned how to perform a Japanese tea ceremony. I even learned the history behind African boot dancing. So let us also spend July 4 celebrating the melting pot of cultures that has helped define America over the years.
While attending a local Independence Day parade Saturday, I could not help but reflect on how far we have come as a country. I know we are far from becoming a Utopian society as injustices against Americans are documented in the news every day, but there was a time when you never would have seen black and white children marching side by side, waving to the crowd in solidarity. Veterans, who never had the opportunity to fight together during war because of their race, now rode beside each other and smiled at the crowd as their float made its way down the parade route.
Freedom is a wonderful thing and I want everyone to remember what the Fourth of July is all about. Sure, the fireworks are breathtaking to behold and your grandfather’s pork ribs are to die for. But the holiday encompasses so much more.
Spend the holiday reconnecting with family and friends. Be sure to take a break from all the preparations and actually spend some time reflecting on the non-tangible aspects of Independence Day. Why not start a new a tradition and have everyone share what the holiday means to them?
I am sure everyone can put down their sparklers and barbecue chicken long enough to give thanks to the men and women who have helped make America what it is today.
Written by Amanda Thomas