It is a Monday commemorating the most cherished of American values — freedom.
It is the Fourth of July.
Our proud nation wears this badge of honor well, and in our small corner of the United States of America, we in Cleveland, Bradley County and all of Southeast Tennessee salute this heartfelt day whose sentimental origin came 235 years ago with the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Nothing of our country’s belief in democracy has changed in those many years.
Yet some might differ.
Some might argue the average American citizen has lost touch with the deep-rooted meaning of this national holiday.
Some might feel our country no longer embraces the same convictions that set our predecessors on a course of liberating revolution more than two centuries ago.
Some might entertain the misguided notion that America is no longer the world protector of humanitarian rights nor the international symbol of hope, opportunity and personal expression.
Some might doubt our nation’s resolve in times of internal strife and in the face of faceless aggressors who do not share our love of life.
Some might question our sincerity in reaching out to others in need while reaching in to comfort our own during times of trial.
Some might wrongfully judge our people’s passion for the same vision of life, liberty and an endearing pursuit of happiness that brought our forefathers to arms against those who would oppress these most basic of freedoms.
Some might believe we simply are not the same America that made our America the greatest country in the world.
We would differ with those who would believe such falsehoods.
We believe patriot John Adams, America’s second president who succeeded George Washington, had it right when he wrote to his wife Abigail of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, “[It] will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
They were sound words then. They are just as pure now.
Obviously, all are entitled to their opinions — another fundamental American right.
But our evidence lies within the very community we call home.
Cleveland and Bradley County residents are respectful of the sacrifices made by those who came before us. Their actions have not fallen on deaf ears.
We show it on Memorial Day.
We live it on Veterans Day.
We commemorate it on Flag Day.
We embrace it every day — in our words, in our prayers, in our mannerisms and in our way of life.
The Fourth of July in Cleveland and Bradley County is no different.
Early today our residents celebrated life, worship and patriotism at the 12th annual Freedom Celebration hosted by His Hands Extended at the Peerless Road Church; tonight, thousands of the same residents will commemorate liberty at the Mount Olive Freedom Celebration at Bradley Square Mall made possible through Larry Hill Ford. Thousands more will relish the fireworks festivities at U.S. Highway 64.
John Adams’ prophetic words to Abigail were not lost on Bradley Countians, not even 235 years later.
America is a free country.
Americans are a giving people.
Let freedom ring today.
Let liberty rein supreme for an endless lifetime!