I'm sitting here at the computer on a beautiful July 4th. My father-in-law is massaging dry rub onto several slabs of ribs and the smell of charcoal and wood are beginning to waft around the patio. My thoughts are here with my family, but they are also thousands of miles away with hundreds of thousands of people who can't be with their families today.
Two hundred years ago, we fought a war for our independence, our freedom. We broke away from an oppressive British government so that we could live the lifestyle we felt comfortable with. We didn't draft soldiers. They volunteered.
Today our military men and women around the world, but especially in Afghanistan and Iraq, stand in the face of danger--of bullets, mortars, road-side bombs, and suicide bombers--to protect the liberty we enjoy. Every single one of them is a volunteer.
That is the spirit that bonds us as Americans. You don't have to fight and face bullets to be a kindred spirit of these heroic men and women. You only have to give of yourself in some way.
Donate blood. Serve a meal at a homeless shelter. Spend a few hours at a food bank. Help clean cages or feed animals at an animal rescue. Do something that's not required of you to serve a higher purpose and you will honor and glorify the principles for which our soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines fight and sometimes die.
America can only remain the land of the free and home of the brave for as long as we live and breathe selflessness--doing something for the greater good and helping others. It is our duty as Americans, first, last, and always.