Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Independence Day

It is July 4th, Independence Day.  Growing up this meant going to my grandparents home with my family, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.  It meant food and fireworks.  It meant homemade ice cream.  I think some years there were so many flavors we could have given Baskin-Robinns a run for it's money.  I loved running around my grandparents yard with bare feet waving my sparkler and watching the bright colors lighting up the sky.

As I grew older the 4th continued to mean all of the above, but it also meant parades, festivals, and BBQ.  One year it meant I had the opportunity to get in a tethered hot air balloon and go up about 50ft.  I cried.  It was a moment I will never forget.  I love hot balloons and I loved the 4th. It also meant singing Lee Greenwood's "G-d Bless The USA".

As an adult it means watching fireworks with my kids and maybe them writing their names with a sparkler.  It means swimming and it means summer. It continues to mean singing Lee Greenwood's "G-d Bless The USA".

In all of this celebrating the reason was weaved throughout the day. I have explained it to my kids. 

Independence Day is the day commemorating the Declaration of Independence in 1776. We were no longer part of the British Empire, but our own nation, the United States of America. It is the birthday of this land we call home. We have this summer holiday, because countless people fought for our independence.  We owe our independence, our freedom, our status as a nation, and the continuation of it to the ones who sacrificed then, the ones who have sacrificed since, and the ones still serving our nation.  Thank you to those countless men and women. 

I learned more about celebrating this holiday when I was in Israel.

I was in Israel for Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel Independence Day.  It is proceeded by Yom Hazikaron, Israel's Memorial Day.  This is a beautiful picture as the nation transitions from a day of national mourning to a day of national celebration.  The state of Israel knows that they owe their existence to G-d and the soldiers who have laid down their lives for it. They too have BBQs, fireworks, and celebrations.                                                                                                                                                                                                         

The holiday began with about 15 of us gathered in a hotel room to watch a program celebrating Israel's 70th anniversary.  After the program a small group of us enjoyed a walk around our hotel.  This bridge was beautifully lit for Israel's Independence Day.  We briefly saw a concert and fireworks.  It was much like things we would see in the states.

The next day continued the celebration of Israel's Independence day with a visit to a place called Latrun, an armored corps memorial site and museum.

This is my friend Gidon with a picture of  the symbol of the unit he served with.  Thank you for your service.  

We ended our celebration of Independence Day at the Ayalon Institute.  This was an underground bullet factory that was disguised as a laundry service and bakery. It was impressive.  It was secretly created in less than a month. I suggest you google this place and read up on it.  It is really incredible.

Thank you to Israel for sharing your day of mourning with me and your day of celebration.  The three holidays I spent in you country taught me so much.  I am so grateful. 

There were many similarities in the way we celebrate Independence Day in the states and how Israel celebrates.  I loved being able to visit sites that dig deep the reminder that the nation exists because of the men and women willing to fight for it, to protect it's borders, and to protect it's people.

Today as we celebrate the birthday of America with food, fireworks, family, and friends we may not have the opportunity to visit places that drive home the fact that our country exists because of the men and women who have sacrificed and are willing to continue to fight for it, but may we take the day to reflect and remember. 

In the words of Lee Greenwood, "I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.
And I'd gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land! God bless the U.S.A."

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