This may be my favorite holiday, being as I'm one of those who gets choked up singing the national anthem, thinks our star-spangled banner is beautiful, and believes the Declaration of Independence is one of the world's great documents.
I love the Declaration because of the vision, the dream, it sets before us in the United States -- even though it's a vision we have yet to live into, a dream that remains unrealized for way too many of our people.
I am a patriot, but not one of those "love it or leave it" types. I am a patriot because I question our leaders, not in spite of those questions. I am a patriot because I will not settle for quick and easy platitudes about our country, seeking instead to push this nation to live into a time when the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness doesn't depend on one's gender, race or social class.
I am a patriot because I will always ask questions when this nation moves toward war, believing it should be the last resort, not the first. I am a patriot because I am slow to believe our leaders, but willing to believe them -- if they will provide me with good information.
I am a patriot because I think the First Amendment is one of the keys to our nation's success. I am a patriot who believes that the only excuse for not voting is being dead.
So happy birthday to us. May we always love this nation enough to take our jobs as citizens seriously.
**********Here's what my garden looked like this morning at 7 a.m., temperature already nearly 90 degrees. Thank God for soaker hoses.