Greetings, Gentle Reader,

When I hear that music, my heart swells, then my tear ducts begin to work overtime. That shouldn’t happen after all these years. Should it? I should be blase’ about that flag and that music. I’m a big girl, now. Ah well. I may be a big girl, but I’m still a bloomin’ crybaby when I hear that music and watch that flag whip in the breeze.

Though I was just a toddler when WW2 started, three of my cousins were young men. They all enlisted, as did millions of other brave young Americans. One became a medic, one a sailor, and one a paratrooper. They all saw combat, much of it, and though they all returned, it left its stamp on each of them. Subsequent wars have done the same to others, many of whom live to this day, including many who have lived with injured bodies from that day to this.

My ancestors have fought in every war this country has had. If they had not, my life would not be what it is today. Would we have a king, if they had not fought the British? Would we be forced to belong to the national church, whatever that might be? Would the class system be so firmly enforced that we would have no choice of occupation? All of those conditions exist in many countries around the world, even now.

So many LDS families have sent beloved sons off to war, and those sons have not all returned. Their sacrifice is the reason I can walk into the chapel door without fear. I can pray without endangering myself or my family.

We LDS have one more thing for which to be grateful to this country, and that is the Prophet Joseph Smith. It is very true, as we have been told, that the Church could not have been restored in any other country. Even here, the persecution was intense, as we know. If not so, the Prophet Joseph would have lived to a ripe old age. He would have had the joy of raising his children to adulthood. The Church would have remained in the Midwest. It would not have moved to the tops of the mountains.

Somehow, it seems to me we owe a debt of honor to those who fought and gave their lives to keep us free. Indeed, we have young people all around us in this day, who have prosthetic legs, arms, hands, etc. Do we owe them a debt of honor? I think so.

What do we owe them? We owe them more than respect, more than gratitude. If we sit around and waste the freedom which their sacrifice has guaranteed us, if we choose not to vote, are we showing them respect and gratitude? I don’t think so. So how do we express our thanks?
Are there people around you who need help? Will someone else help them if you do not? Are there those who need love and support? Will someone else take your place if you do nothing? Will someone else vote in your place, if you choose not to do so?

Let’s take it to the lowest common denominator. Have you smiled at someone today? Have you encouraged them? Have they seen that you are concerned for their welfare? Have you gently, respectfully helped them make a choice that will redound to their benefit? Some people need support in order to make the decisions that will lift them up, encourage them to reach higher, give them a sense of security.

Let’s begin to count the smiles we give others. Let’s count the times we encourage. Let’s count our good deeds. Did you mow the neighbor’s lawn? Count it. Did you tell the neighbor’s teenager he was destined for greatness? Count it. Did you tell a Sunday School teacher she was doing a super job? Count it. Did you let the Bishop know how much you appreciate his devotion and expenditure of time? Count it.

Let’s count the times we cheer others on, and let them know they have done something good. Now let’s do that at home, as well as in our neighborhoods. Our parents, our teens, our little ones need that too.

What do we owe our fighters, who have sacrificed for us? We owe them a better country, a kinder country, a country filled with responsible people of honor. Now let’s start with us, each of us, right at home. Just don’t forget to count it. We need encouragement, too.

Happy Fourth of July!

Return to the Neighborhood.

Until next time,

Muriel Sluyter

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    C.L. Beck said...

    Nice article. I think the "pass it on" concept is a good way to show our gratitude to those who've worked so hard for our freedoms.

  1. ... on July 9, 2008 at 10:21 PM