It’s All About Freedom, Americans Coming Together, and Using Our Diverse Capabilities to Serve and Make a Difference
If you’ve been following me for more than a year, then you know that the Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays – It’s uniquely American. The Fourth is all about celebrating our country’s birthday together with friends and family. I love it – no presents to worry about – just food, fireworks, friends and family having fun together. We celebrate America’s Birthday in the Pacific Northwest with my in-laws (where they are both originally from) on the San Juan islands. The local harbor (Roche Harbor) puts on an entire day of activities that starts at 8 am with a three-mile fun run and ends with log rolling in the cold waters of the Salish Sea. There are contests galore from egg tossing to three-legged races to doughnut and pie eating; but the best part is we’re all in it together. The operative word is “together,” because that’s the magic of the Fourth of July and what our country’s founding fathers intended America to be. Anything of greatness in this country has occurred because of Americans coming together – just like this little harbor puts on one great day to celebrate the Fourth of July. People come from all over the country (and Canada!) to participate in making the day great.
The Best Part is We’re All in It Together
In much the same way that sports can cross divides of differences and bring diverse people together (just watch one World Cup match to see what sports can do!), the Fourth of July does the same thing for Americans. I love that. In thinking about this post, the “togetherness” that is celebrated on the Fourth reminds of me of a comment Admiral William H. McRaven made to a newscaster shortly after the Osama Bin Laden (OBL) mission in Pakistan. At the time, ADM McRaven was one of only two Navy SEAL four-star officers and the senior officer in charge for the OBL operation. When the Admiral was asked pointedly by the reporter “who shot Bin Laden?” he responded with, “America did.” He went on to explain his reasoning by educating the TV anchorman on a brief history of how the Special Operations Command was formed, and that the team who conducted the mission was able to do so because of the groundwork laid over the past 40 years – and the support of the American people for funding and serving the U.S. military. I think his answer is spot on – Less than 1% of the US population serves in the military today but that doesn’t mean they are the only ones “serving” America. Those who serve in uniform depend on millions of hands and minds for the making and creating of equipment and know-how that enables the military to do what it does. This is Americans coming together for a common purpose.
Americans Coming Together to Make a Difference
Which brings me to another point of the power of “together” in America – farming. When World War II started, over 40% of Americans were involved in farming. Today, that percentage is almost as small as those who serve in our Armed Forces – it’s roughly around 2%. However, don’t be fooled by the single digits – like the military, our farmers pack quite a punch today. Those two-percenters feed not just America, but also much of the world. Their output has soared over the past 70-plus years – more than quadrupling production per acre with much less manpower required. One of the joys of speaking is getting to meet all kinds people from industries such as agriculture – I’ve spoken several times to the farming community, and I am amazed at what they do today. The same efficiencies can be said about our one-percenters – our fighting men and women. We have dramatically improved our combat survivability and battlefield effectiveness since the days of landing on the beaches of Normandy.
And do you know how we’ve done it?
There Are Lots of Ways to Serve
WE – and I stress that word – have done it together. Americans Coming Together have Made a Difference. Whether you are a farmer or a fighter, you don’t have to be on the field or the battlefield to help make a difference – you just have to care to make the difference. Very few of us will commit to serve in uniform or serve our lands as a farmer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t serve. I am often approached by people who lament that they wished they had “served.” My response is always the same, “there are lots of ways to serve.” It doesn’t matter if you’re into farming or fighting – what matters is that you’re willing to come together to make a difference in the service of others. At the end of the day, service is what separates us from other countries – our ability to come together and use our diverse capabilities to make a difference. That is America’s Magic: bringing people together to make great things happen for a common goal. One of the biggest goals is easy to rally for – freedom; It isn’t free and it requires a whole helluva lot of people to serve together, but it is worth it and freedom is what America’s Magic is all about.
Happy Birthday, America!
(and God Bless our troops and our farmers!)
Related Post: The Price of Freedom