Two hundred forty-three years ago, the visionaries who laid the cornerstone of our country resolved to create a republic firmly rooted in freedom and fundamental values. One year later, on July 4, 1777, Congress adjourned to commemorate our first year of freedom with bells, bonfires, and fireworks throughout Philadelphia. Those festivities became the foundations for our modern Fourth of July traditions.
I visited Philadelphia last weekend to assist my eldest daughter—a timely trip to a grand old city with an “Independence Square” housing the buildings where the Declaration of Independence was signed, the Liberty Bell, and other historically significant sites. If you get to Philadelphia, I hope you can save time to visit the place where our July 4th holiday began almost two and a half centuries ago.
Since that first Independence Day, America has grown up, become stronger, and become wiser. We aren’t perfect, but we continue to evolve into a Nation where all Americans have the same opportunities. As a people, we have our differences; but the most important attributes are those which bind us together as Americans.
We’ve forged our future on independence and defended the inalienable rights for which our forebears fought so hard. America, much like our company, will never truly know completion, though. Instead, we’ll keep working together to be even better for the people and places making up our great melting pot of opportunity.
Honoring and celebrating
Today, we live, work, worship, and raise families the way we choose because we are free. As you celebrate your Independence Day, remember the countless men and women who have given and continue to give so much to make sure we stay free. Independence comes at great cost, but its value is priceless.
I regularly share with you my pride in our country and my deep respect and gratitude for the many sacrifices that have safeguarded our great land of the free. This week, we asked our associates what patriotism means to them and how they celebrate Independence Day. We’d like to share some of their responses to raise your red, white, and blue spirit for the Fourth of July.
What does Independence Day mean to you?
Leigh Anne Broadus
Centralized Funding Specialist
To me, patriotism means that I honor and abide by our Bill of Rights and Constitution of the United States. As a citizen, it is my duty to uphold these rights. I try to pass this down to our young ones so they know and do the same. Also, I try to teach our younger ones to be thankful for our freedoms.
Independence Day means the birth of the greatest nation in the world, and I count my blessings for my freedom. The freedoms that we enjoy as Americans cannot be found in any other country. I celebrate freedom on this day and every day of the year.
Celebrating Independence Day is something I look forward to every year. I plan for family fun and fireworks. I also think about all the men and women that gave their lives for our freedom as well as those that have worn or wear the uniform. Wherever I might be, I try to participate in local patriotic events.
Enterprise Projects Manager
Patriotism means making contributions to our country to help keep the principles of freedom embedded in our Constitution eternal. The most important patriotic act a citizen can perform is military service. I am a U.S. Army veteran, and my son in currently serving in the Louisiana Air National Guard. Having served overseas and traveled to various countries, I have been able to appreciate many of the freedoms we have as Americans.
Independence Day means the freedom to be me. No matter when and from where I came, I can be whatever I set my heart to do. Freedom is not free. Many have made and continue to make sacrifices so we can enjoy those freedoms. That is the meaning of Independence Day for me.
We usually attend Fourth of July fireworks events and proudly display our red, white, and blue flag
at our home. We also celebrate another important event on July 4, my wife’s birthday, with a red, white, and blue birthday cake.
Mortgage Production Specialist
Patriotism to me is being grateful for the men and women who sacrificed their lives to make this country great and free for all who want to live here and have a life full of opportunities to continue to make this country even better. As a child, spouse, and mother of a military family, I reflect every single day on what it is to be an American.
On the Fourth of July, our family likes to gather with close-by family members to watch the fireworks. Before our parents passed away, we would travel to Alabama and listen to patriotic music on the radio while celebrating with fireworks. We would also go to the nearby Air Force base to participate in their activities.
We love to decorate our house with red, white, and blue colors and put flags all over the lawn. Inside, have various items from my father when he was in the Army, my husband when he was in the Air Force, and now my son, who is active duty with the Air Force.
I was raised always to respect the men and women who put on a uniform to protect our county every day. I do take breakfast on certain Sundays to our guards who stand at the gate to know that they are very much appreciated and to feel like someone else is doing the same for my son.
CRA & Small Business Strategy Director
To me, patriotism is loving our country and the people who live here. I frequently reflect on the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. People tend to forget, including me sometimes, that the reason we have freedom is because of the love, commitment, and strength of those who serve.
Independence Day holds a special meaning for my family, including my children who have served and currently serve our country. Seeing their service causes me to reflect with greater meaning on the service of my father and uncle in World War II and the service of others going back to that first Independence Day.
On Independence Day, we make it a family day by celebrating the love we have for each other and the freedoms we have been given through the sacrifices of those who serve, including my children. I remind them that Independence Day is their day. Those who serve work hard all year and, ironically, give up so many of the freedoms the rest of us are able to enjoy.
Leadership & Diversity Manager
Recently, I had a chance to walk the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery. Early in the morning with the dew still on the grass, I sat and listened to the silence, thanking the many lives that gave all so we could all sleep a little safer under a blanket we call freedom.
Growing up as a military brat and then becoming a Navy mom, I have always viewed Independence Day as more than fireworks and barbecues. To me, the Fourth of July is about reflection and family. It is commitment. It is sacrifice and heartache. Most importantly, it is a love for this country.
This Fourth of July, may you freely, safely celebrate our American independence with the people and customs you cherish.