Once a civilization comes to the point where the majority no longer believe they are moral, just, and good-natured, it is not long before they are finished.
As we prepare to celebrate the independence and formation of our country this year on the 4th of July it is very important to myself and others who have fought for it to remind others of how blessed and fortunate we are to be Americans.
I am very sensitive to this holiday and its foundational relevance. The barbecues, fireworks, and pool parties with friends are to be enjoyed and anticipated. We must not however forget why we are all here in the first place, who made it possible, and why we have so many people who undergo the journey to get a taste of the freedom that emanates from our shores.
I often like to ask myself and others what our founding fathers would say and think if they were here today to grade our progress and growth. Would they be proud, or disappointed? Would they agree with our course, our new policies both foreign and domestic? Would they remind us of the battles fought, the fear they felt when gathering together in that hot and stuffy room in Pennsylvania to commit the treasonous act of assembly to discuss succession, independence, and defiance? Would they remind us of their intentions and why they framed this country under God with the Bill of Rights and the Constitution?
Often critics hear someone like myself with so much love and patriotism for this country and conclude that I must have blinders on to miss the failures, mistakes, and even harm within this country and its dealings around the globe. To those critics I simply reply, “Not quite!”
I am well aware of many of the things we wish we could take back or do over. This country is far from perfect. It never has been and it never will be. Show me a country that is.
To those critics of this country and my love for it, I challenge you to display an equivalent who has done more to exemplify and promote individual freedom, liberty, and human rights around the world. Show me a country that has created, invented, and showcased more advances in technology, industry, health care, and economy combined than the United States of America. Better yet, show me a country that the world looks to more for leadership, aid, and protection in war torn and impoverished regions.
As I look forward to this 4th of July, I can’t help but look in the rear view to the day I joined the United States Navy. It was barely a week after the attacks on 9/11. I was angry, I was hurt, I was filled with a sense of duty to make sure that kind of cowardly attack never devastated our country and its citizens again. This country, our freedoms, and our liberties were not free or guaranteed on the first 4th of July and they are most certainly not free or guaranteed today.
So go out and enjoy the parties, fireworks, and time off from work. Just don’t forget the bigger picture. How lucky you are to be here. Who established the framework you now comfortably live beneath. Most importantly, you must never take it for granted or get complacent that these celebrations and milestones are forgone conclusions. Finally, be proactive and ask yourself what you can do to make sure that future generations enjoy the 4th and the joy of freedom that still permeates from sea to shining sea.
Eli Crane is the founder and CEO of Bottle Breacher, and former Navy SEAL. He is a Christian, husband and father, keynote speaker, a contributor to Entrepreneur.com, and a member of the Advisory Committee Veterans Business Affairs (ACVBA) in Washington, DC.