My siblings and I were brought up patriotic. The Fourth of July was a big deal around our house. My dad was a red-blooded, English, Scottish, Irish American with a pinch of Native American for good measure; he referred to himself as Heinz 57.
My mom was Filipino but became a naturalized citizen after she and my dad married and came to the states to start our family. She was proud of her heritage but embraced the United States of America as her new home.
In Oklahoma City, we lived on a block where there were lots of kids to match our seven still at home, and our neighborhood had an annual block party on the 4th. There were games and skits performed, a potluck, and, of course, fireworks. I associated the day with fun but also knew the meaning and felt a real sense of pride.
We always flew the Stars and Stripes July Fourth. My dad served in the military and cared deeply about our country, and the Fourth of July was an opportunity for us all to show our pride in this great country. Being American seemed intertwined with the values our parents instilled in us; honesty, integrity, fairness, a strong sense of faith, service to others, and being good stewards of the gifts God gave us. We lived by the notion that our country was built on the founding principle of the rights of all people. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Are we living by this principle? I’m not sure that we are?
I’m a member of the Rotary Club of Park Cities and a Rotary tradition at the start of each meeting is to say the Pledge of Allegiance and sing the National Anthem. Every time an emotion stirs in me, a sense of pride but also a sense of responsibility.
This July Fourth, I pledge to think about others, to share from my gifts, and to strive to be the best American and human being that I can. God Bless America.