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As this newsletter makes its way to you, I’m sure many of our readers have already enjoyed their own Fourth of July celebrations. At the time of writing, my family’s plans are still up in the air, but my daughter is making a strong case to drive down to Columbus to visit her Uncle Bill. Visiting family is always a great option for Independence Day. Of course, it helps that Bill is a fireworks enthusiast. He actually travels around with a group of fellow hobbyists, putting on fireworks displays, and they’re pretty impressive. Making the drive south for a private Fourth of July show is certainly tempting. We have been homebodies these last few July Fourths, probably because it comes right at the end of my busy conference season and I’m relieved to have a day off in my own house! We have traveled pretty far afield for Independence Days past. The most memorable, by far, was when we were in Washington D.C. in 2002. At the time, my sister worked on Capitol Hill, and we were very grateful for the opportunity to go visit her. The September 11th attacks had occurred less than a year ago, and it felt like the whole country was holding its breath. I still remember the sense of uncertainty, of not knowing when or where the next attack might be. Visiting D.C. amid all the national terror was a surreal experience. There we were, in the capital of a nation founded on values of freedom and liberty, and there were armored military vehicles on every corner. Driving down an American boulevard, seeing soldiers with assault rifles would be a strange sight anywhere in the country, but it was made that much more poignant with the Washington Monument towering in the background. A 4TH TO REMEMBER
could feel it. Still, seeing those armed guards walking the streets was a somber reminder of how much things had changed in only 10 months. Regardless, our family was determined to make our way to the national mall and show our support for our country. And we weren’t the only ones. In spite of the nervousness, people from all over the country made their way to the national mall to show their support for the stars and stripes. As the fireworks burst overhead, that sense of caution in the crowd melted as we celebrated the freedom, resilience, and unity that define us as Americans. There was something deeply moving about that first Independence Day after 9/11. There was, and still is, plenty of healing to be done in the wake of those attacks. But having that day to come together as one people, in public, and show that we weren’t afraid, that we weren’t going to be intimidated into staying home, was a powerful experience. Regardless of where we celebrate this year’s Fourth of July, I’ll be keeping that warm summer night in 2002 close at heart. More than fireworks or barbecues, Independence Day is about gratitude for what we have as a nation. It’s about the ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and the generations of brave Americans that have fought to defend them. It’s about the power of unity in the face of terror and uncertainty.
God Bless America,
I don’t blame Capitol Hill for having extra security — those were scary times. Everyone in that city was especially on edge, and you
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