The Stars and Stripes will be flying in cities, towns and neighborhoods throughout Utah this Fourth of July – a symbol of the sacred ideals that unite us as a country and a vivid reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices ordinary Americans have made to preserve our freedom.
For my part, Independence Day is a time to reflect on one of my most treasured possessions – the American flag that draped my elder brother’s coffin. Although I was only 10 when I learned Jess would not be coming home from World War II, I can vividly recall how I felt that cold winter day when my parents and I heard the news from a uniformed serviceman. We were devastated.
Jess was and always will be my hero. I feel the same way about all the brave Americans who have given their lives in the defense of our country. They gave what Abraham Lincoln called the “last full measure of devotion.” They epitomize the word “hero.” The same is true of the brave young men and women in uniform today, many of whom are serving in harm’s way.
As we gather with families and friends over the weekend to celebrate the 235 th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, I hope we all will take time to reflect on their heroic sacrifices to protect our freedoms. And may we all honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice on the field of battle and accord them a place of honor in our heads and hearts.
Freedom isn’t free. It requires responsibility. It is my hope that each of us will do all we can, wherever we stand, to advance the cause of freedom – to, paraphrasing the words of “America the Beautiful,” more than self our country love.