Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy (almost) 4th of July

It's unofficially the 4th here today. Our family get-together is today, rather than tomorrow, for a variety of reasons. But that's OK, since it'll make the weekend seem even longer. And after last week? That's fine by me.

For the past couple of weeks, some people in my neighborhood have begun the annual tradition of setting off small explosive devices to celebrate the holiday. This is driving our dog crazy. Literally. Buddy came to us as a shelter dog, so we don't know his history. But there's definitely signs of post-traumatic stress disorder... for dogs. Thank goodness the vet gave us "doggie valium" for him to take the edge off.

Are small explosives really the focus of this holiday?

I did an interview yesterday with a local home builder for the Parade of Homes this fall. He is a first generation immigrant to the United States, arriving in the mid-1970s. He was 18. A few times during our conversation, he mentioned how America is equated with "freedom" and "choices. " Any one of us who has had even one American History class is familiar with that concept. But do we have it in the forefront of our minds every day? How many of us have had the experience of living in a society where one's views and opinions are oppressed? Where we have no choices... we have no "say."

Listening to how this man has even integrated the appreciation of democracy and choice into his career was eye-opening. His home designs are very unique; seeing four of his homes situated in one cul-de-sac with one home built by another builder made it obvious how different they are. He has followed his dream and passion, building homes that may be newly constructed, but evoke thoughts of nostalgia. Why build homes that are so vastly different in design from his contemporaries? "I want to bring democracy into home design," he said with a laugh.

Here is a person who truly appreciates democracy and choice possible in our country -- something that any one of us could -- and often times do -- forget.

So, Happy 4th of July! Take a minute between the hamburgers, potato salad and the fireworks to appreciate what we are fortunate enough to experience in the United States. The freedom to choose. The freedom to follow dreams. The freedom to have a "say so."

And the freedom to seet off many, many small explosives in the name of patriotism.

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