Something I’ve noticed over the last month or so is how important summer is in our year. I have always been a “love the first snow” kind of person. But when it’s still snowing in April, I quickly turn into the “when’s it going to end?” person.But Minnesota winters are what make our summers so amazing. We’ve earned them. We deserve them. Nothing beats a Minnesota summer.
I’ve been thinking of that feeling a lot lately. Even though I am not in school anymore (be right back as I celebrate that feat once again…) I still have those same feelings moving into summer. Setting goals, recharging, and making time to relax and regroup after a long winter.
In many ways, this year is no different. Our winter itself may not have been the most difficult Minnesota winter we’ve had recently, but it was one to remember. Living among a worldwide pandemic tends to alter our sense of normality. Events are cancelled, postponed, or changed to limit exposure to other people. Not to mention how contentious the proper way to protect yourself and others has become… (small plug to wear a mask as much as possible in public places and around other people). With everything that’s different, it’s hard not to reflect on past summers and the things we often take for granted.
The 4th of July has always been a big holiday for my family. I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and for decades my grandpa raised the flag every morning at the end of the street as you entered the gates to our community beach club on Lake Erie. No matter the weather or day, he would walk to the corner and raise the flag.
During my grandpa’s last years before he passed our family moved in with him to help him live rather independently and not have to leave the home. Whenever someone asked why he raised the flag for so long, he would answer “for the men and women who didn’t make it home.”
My dad continues the tradition of raising and lowering the flag every day. On the 4th of July, our family leads the community in the pledge of allegiance while raising the flag prior to a celebration at the beach. This 4th of July will be different. There won’t be big celebrations, parades, or fireworks. I wonder if that will allow ourselves a chance to take a step back and realize what is important about our country.
This 4th of July, I challenge us all to spend time with those we love, reflect on the historic time we are living in globally, nationally, and locally, and think of ways we can continue to make our nation a place for all people to celebrate and be free. I also want us to recognize that our experiences are different. We are always learning that our understanding of being free is different than our neighbors. We must actively work towards a place where all people feel included in our nation’s freedom. I say that as we remember the stonewall uprising of 1969 this week and the protests against racial injustice across our nation. We are all stronger together.
The pandemic is still very much with us. I hope the 4th of July is able to convey a small bit of recharging to our summer. Spend time with family, fire up the grill, and think about what the 4th of July means for us as a community and country. If that thought is uncomfortable or not what you want it to be- I challenge you to wake up on July 5th and think of ways to start changing that.
Our youth at SJA have amazing things to say. Our goal is to give them a platform to share their thoughts on topics they want to talk about. Their thoughts are uniquely theirs. From politics to faith, school issues to our church, this blog shares their voices with our community.