I bet --no, I know -- there are millions of Americans who will go camping this weekend, or have family gatherings, or other social events, or even piece and quiet evenings outside in the warm sun reading a good book, who will take for granted that they can do that very thing.
Believe it or not, life wasn't always this simple for people. Our ancestors had to work long hours on the farm, and then they came in at sunset, ate, kissed the kids, and went to bed. Most people weren't even aloud to choose the religion they wanted, or to criticize the King.
That all changed with the American Revolution. That all changed with the U.S. Constitution.
Many people like to think it was the Bill of Rights that gave us the freedom of speech and other rights that allow this to be the greatest nation in the world.
The truth to the matter is, every human being ever born was born with the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness; the right to free speech, to defend oneself, to choose the religion of choice, etc. God gave us these basic freedoms.
And, as was the case with many nations including Britain, it was the government that took these rights away. In that regard, the United States Constitution was the first document ever written that guaranteed to protect these rights for its citizens -- us.
And while we quite often take our God given freedoms for granted, the young men and women who sit in a pit in Iraq, the military, NEVER stop thinking about how fragile this freedom is. While most of us never think of it, these young men and women NEVER turn a blind eye to the dangerous people of the world who hate us and want to destroy what we take for granted.
So, that said, we all need to do more than just have fun this weekend: we need to appreciate.
A perfect example of this occurred in church this morning. First God Bless America played, and then the priest stood up to give his weekly announcements. As a final gesture, he said, "I saw men in uniform as we were handing out the body of Christ. Will you two young men please stand."
They did. We gave a standing ovation that lasted for several minutes. And then, just as the clapping was about to end, one man stood up and started clapping, and then we all stood, applauding twice as loud and twice as long as the first time.
While I had no clue who these men were, I couldn't help to feel a sense of American Pride. I felt pride not just that these men protect our freedom that most of us take for granted, but the freedom of millions of people around the world.
This must have had a similar effect on my son, who reminded me of a famous quote from the WWII as we were headed to the car: "Dad," he said, "Never had so many had a reason to thank so few."
Many people sacrifice time with their families so we can spend time with ours. Many people sacrificed their lives so that we may enjoy ours. And we must always have moments of pride like this where we stop and think: "Yes, I am an American. I am proud."
And for those who gave us this opportunity we say: THANKS! Even if that thanks comes in the form of simple goose flesh during a simple standing ovation, or a sense of pride during a simple rendition of "God Bless America."