I am the product of a military family on both sides. My father's father proudly served in the U.S. Army, lying about his age to enlist early and avoid the otherwise inevitable work in the coal mines of Pennsylvania. He served in Vietnam and spent years moving my dad, my aunt, and my grandmother all over the place, even spending a few years stationed in Germany. He flies his flag proudly in his front yard (above his Pittsburgh Steelers flag, of course).
My mother's father served in the U.S. Army as well. He then served as a Colonel in the National Guard and was a renowned recruiter. Once he retired, he built his business on his military passion and connections, owning and operating one of the largest military supply companies in the U.S. He made his big break during Desert Storm in '91 as he was able to keep up with the high demand with a sudden rebound of patriotism. He is 80 years old and still goes to work every single day. This country is his life.
Needless to say, my family is proudly American and celebrates accordingly. I was taught at a very young age that the 4th of July is simply the date. The holiday is referred to as "Independence Day." And for as long as I can remember, I've had a homework assignment due on the 4th of July.
My sister and I were required each year to turn in an assignment to my dad. In any artful expression we chose, we were to describe why were proud to be Americans and what Independence Day meant to us. They began as drawings in crayon on construction paper, but over the years, developed into poems, essays, and paintings. Two of my Dad's favorites being my essay written from my summer serving as a camp counselor at Camp Nakanawa in Crossville, Tennessee and my sister's very long text sent from her summer backpacking through Europe. Without fail, every year, no matter where we were or who we were with, we turned in our assignment. We were thankful. We celebrated.
This year, I'm a day late with my homework, but am thankful none the less. I am so very proud to be from a family of service men. I am so very proud to be a part of a country in which I can raise my daughter to be a strong, educated, independent woman. She will be able to attend college, to pursue the career of her choice, to serve her country if she so chooses. She is free to make any decision she wants and for this, I am most grateful. I am grateful to the men and women who serve so that we may lead a life of freedom.
I am proud to be an American and will pass on this tradition to my children as well. They will know how important their heritage is and each year, they will express it in any way they choose on the 4th of July.
Happy Independence Day!
|Catherine expressed this year's assignment through her wardrobe! :)|