TAMPA, FL - Just because school is almost over, doesn’t mean learning has to stop. Holidays are an excellent time to teach your kids about their own culture, community, and the responsibility we have to continue certain traditions. Besides, honoring those who deserve it goes great with sunblock, rum punch and trashy romance novels.
Here are some ideas for two popular summertime holidays.
This is an annual opportunity to pay tribute to those who have died for our country. There are many ways to demonstrate our appreciation and remembering them is the least we can do. Grateful Americans attend services at military cemeteries and wear red poppies to show they haven’t forgotten the fallen. Flags are proudly displayed, Taps is played, speeches made, and graves visited.
The Robinsons have been doing this for years, and I remember looking around a tranquil national cemetery back in 2000 and feeling embarrassed at all the empty seats. After the terrorist attacks on 9/11, attendance rose sharply and finding parking spaces became more difficult. Seats continue to fill as Afghanistan and Iraq remind us of sacrifices our soldiers continue to make on a daily basis. Yet, I’m always saddened that more people aren’t in attendance when I sit down and pin poppies on my children’s shirts. Is an hour too much to give to those who have given everything for our country, for us?
When people ask about my plans for the long weekend, I measure my words and try to appeal to their sense of patriotism, especially in this day and age. I will invite them to make the drive to any locally organized observances. It’s one of those rare moments when we can all come together, put aside our differences, and say thank you to millions of sons and daughters who have paid the ultimate price for our liberty and freedom.
I will also tell them it only lasts a short while, leaving plenty of time to head back to the beach, barbecue or bed. Then I will ask them again to please, join us.
It’s not that I think sitting at home and listening to radio stations play every Eighties tune from A-Z is a colossal waste of time. American soldiers who died, and for whom Memorial Day is dedicated, deserve appreciation for their ultimate sacrifice. Call it my own personal ”Better Than Sleeping In Late” rally for the masses to acknowledge reasons these holidays exist in the first place. If anything, days off can be used as an excuse to give back to your community and make the world a better place. Later, drink your beer and grill dead animals with a clean conscience.
Community leaders and veterans make stirring speeches and military bands play music that will leave you in tears. Plenty of shade usually exists for children to run and play and I recommend taking time afterward to walk among the graves and whisper ”thank you” to the ghosts among us, no doubt happy to see not everyone has forgotten them.
Are you proud to be an American? Prove it. See you there.
I know what you’re thinking. The Fourth of July celebration is about fireworks, barbecued garden burgers, and beer.
The real reason for this particular season is The Declaration of Independence, people. A beautiful piece of poetry, this document deserves to be read *out loud* at least once a year to your children, loved ones – heck, even to yourself.
Yes, fireworks and parties are fun, but that’s not the reason for the season. Our forefathers and their wives were wicked brave and, to honor them, we should understand why they stepped to the British monarchy in the first place.
Then go blow off body parts.
If you don’t have a copy at home, shame on you. You can find time to purchase “50 Shades of Grey” but not the document that guaranteed your freedom to read trash? Find one online or in your favorite library or bookstore. (They still have these, right?)
Don’t take Christ out of Christmas? I say don’t take The Declaration of Independence out of Independence Day. Yes, the part about savage Indians makes my stomach turn, but it’s important to remember our past mistakes and learn from them. It also makes for great discussions. My kids know the drill and giggle a little when Mommy gets choked up at the end.
Reading this impressive list of reasons we had to break up with the Brits takes three minutes - tops. The beer and barbecue will wait; feed your mind and soul first.
The rum punch will taste better with a clean conscience, I promise.
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