Travis Grass, Fourth of July Reflections

Independence Day. This day is filled with cookouts and fireworks – but what does it mean to us? The Fourth of July is more than burgers and brats; it is about honoring those who have sacrificed their lives for our Independence. The sacrifice our families make serving at home while their loved ones are deployed. The premature sacrifices of those who’ve paid the ultimate price and the sacrifice of the Gold Star Families they leave behind. In honoring the sacrifice, I feel an incredible sense of gratitude for having been able to serve my country and state. That appreciation resonates deep within me every time I see the flag of the United States and hear our National Anthem. While we gather with friends and family to celebrate our nation’s independence, we should all take a moment to remember the sacrifice of each serviceman, servicewoman, and their families. Remember the sacrifices they make every day and honor those sacrifices. The Fourth of July resonates deeper than a celebration for this country. It is a celebration to praise each member fighting to maintain our freedom as others threaten our liberty.

Our flag is a symbol reminding every American that our soldiers are always here to protect our freedom during a war or a time of chaos. One of the most enduring reminders, to me personally, is the bravery and sacrifice that helped us win the Battle of Iwo Jima. Independence Day will always be more significant than just a holiday; it is a time to honor our soldiers who have protected and continue to fight to protect this great country.

Every year, I spend the weekend with my mom and pop from Big Oak and our Ranch family. We spend each year at the lake with lawn chairs – woven with brown plastic, forever hot and sticky for the next person who sits down. In the background Cameron, Brendan and I are playing corn hole. I can hear Addison and Abigail screaming on their inner tube in the middle of the lake as they are pulled by a jet ski driven by Austin. Off to the side, are folding tables covered with red, white, and blue tablecloths and platters of Austin’s one-of-a-kind BBQ and a DJ off to the side. Added in is usually a tray of side dishes and endless desserts. And I’m sure our children survive only on popsicles and lemonade all day. My mom is always running around, always the hostess, but somehow also makes sure to visit and catch up with her friends and family throughout the day. To end the day, we all gather for a night ride on Pop’s boat as the neighbor puts on a firework show for families along the lake.

My parents sure know how to throw a party! One of the biggest parties on the lake will hold a fabric of my little girl’s memories for the rest of her life. I wonder if my mom and pop will ever realize these annual picnics’ impact on so many of us. Fourth of July is the one day of the year when everyone from my parents’ endless circle of friends, family, and neighbors arrives with lawn chairs, corn hole, jet skis, and tubes, while leaving behind trials and challenges, if even for few hours.