Friday, July 2, 2010

Independence- To serve or not to serve

As we start to embark on a celebration of our country’s independence this weekend. It is also a chance to take stock in what makes this country great. This weekend we are more than just Democrats and Republicans. We are Patriots. Despite the way we feel about politics, the economy, the environment, and cultural differences in our country, we are united in our love for our beloved country.

To me, thoughts of fireworks, watermelon, NASCAR’s Firecracker 400, picnics, and soldiers are what I see in my mind when I think about the approaching holiday. I am sure many of you may have similar visualizations in your mind. One particular aspect always seems to haunt me though. As a teenager, I always wanted to be a professional pilot. However, due to my color-blinded eyes, I was never able to fulfill that dream. Before I realized this deficiency would prevent me from becoming a pilot, I met with the US Navy. I thought maybe I could get free pilot training. Boy was I wrong.

Because of my color-blindness and maybe my other aptitudes at the time, I was offered few opportunities that interested me. It certainly was not flying an airplane! One job they offered me was to be a parachute folder! That sounded like fun! So I never went into the Armed Forces. Part of me regrets not serving. Soon after I graduated, the first Gulf War took place. I knew people I graduated with in high school that was over there. I have tremendous respect for those that have served. I am humbled by their commitment to put their lives on the line for this country.

 Now as I am approaching my 40’s, I still feel an urge to serve my country. For the past couple of years, I have decided to serve in another fashion and that is to volunteer. Through my church, I have become involved in volunteer opportunities that help my fellow man. I have tried to help organize and create an emergency food pantry. Since we opened this pantry up, we have averaged about 80 families a month. I have felt very humbled by helping to feed people that may not have been fed without us. The other mission that I have helped with is an emergency winter shelter program which I have documented before in this blog.  

Remember this Independence Day what makes this country great. It isn’t the fireworks or the 20-car wreck pile-up at the Daytona Race, but it is the people. Previous generations were truly raised by a village. Neighborhoods were your extended family. If you needed help putting a fence up, they would come to help you.  How many of us do not know the names of your neighbors? Somewhere we lost that camaraderie, but by volunteering you can help to reconnect with your fellow man.

Stop looking inward; stop complaining about the problems with the world, and take steps to fix it. Volunteer for a cause that is near and dear to you. To me, I feel that my volunteerism keeps me grounded. We all can get lost in wanting to get that newest big screen television or iPhone, but helping others that are less fortunate keeps everything in perspective. Take time to volunteer. Don’t do it because you are required, do it because you want to. You just might enjoy it. For me, I feel that I get more out of it than I put in.

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