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4th of July: Remembering What It All Means

Updated on August 13, 2013
BNadyn profile image

Bernadyn is a writer who contributes her work to various websites and magazines and is the Owner/Director for the website, B is 4.

Red, White and Blue: Appreciating the Meaning of Those Colors

My JROTC photo from high school.  During my time in the program, I learned to appreciate what it all means to have freedom and to respect the flag more along with the service people who protect our country.
My JROTC photo from high school. During my time in the program, I learned to appreciate what it all means to have freedom and to respect the flag more along with the service people who protect our country. | Source

4th of July Poem

Vision of Colors: White, Blue and Red

Stars and stripes
Stand bold and bright
Among colors I’ve grown
To love, respect and admire
Bravery, honor and freedom
Is what they said
stood behind
those beaming colors of
white, blue and red

Small hands pressed
against my chest
Repeating the words,
Singing the ode of our
country’s victory
From our hard
fought quest

No longer a little girl although
My hands may still be small
But pressed against my chest
I stand more proud and tall
To lift up my head to what
They once said
To see clearer with my eyes
A vision of stars and stripes
Standing among those beaming
Bold colors of
White, blue and red

I look up at it now,
That flag flying freely representing
freedom, honor and bravery
Those words still ring true
With all their meaning
but now with a
Deeper understanding
Grateful to all
Those brave ones
who shared their courage and
honorably sacrificed
Their own blood to shed
For this nation whose flag
Proudly bleeds
White, blue and red

Symbolism and Colors of the Flag

  • "The colors of the flag may be thus explained: The red is for valor, zeal and fervency; the white for hope purity, cleanliness of life, and rectitude of conduct; the blue, the color of heaven, for reverence to God, loyalty, sincerity, justice and truth."
  • "The symbolism of the Flag was thus interpreted by Washington: "We take the stars from Heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing Liberty."

-History of the Flag, USA CItyLink

History Lessons, The Meaning Lost

What did history mean to you as a youth growing up?

I still remember those school days when as children we were taught to say the "Pledge of Allegiance" and sing "The Star-Spangled Banner." They were not so meaningful to me then. I only saw what was on the surface - a crisp, swaying flag with stars and stripes of red, white and blue hanging in the class room or outside on a tall pole flag. The words we had to repeat were not translating to anything more but repetitive lines and lyrics that we learned to recite every school day. It just became a habit, part of another routine on a regular day in class.

I enjoyed singing the patriotic songs we sang every now and then like "My Country, Tis of Thee" (also known as "America") along with our national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner." What child didn't like to sing?

Then, in history class as we grew older, we were taught the events of Wars like World War I and World War II, memorizing the dates, significance of the outcomes, names of landmarks and noteworthy people involved. The bad guys were just names on the pages to me and the heroes were admirable but not so close in my heart; just facts to remember for a paper or test.

My heart would eventually change and my eyes would open to the true meaning of these events in history...


Proud to be a Part of Something Great

I was so proud to be a part of my JROTC program at my school and loved wearing this hat.  Although I wasn't in the actual military, I knew I represented something great.
I was so proud to be a part of my JROTC program at my school and loved wearing this hat. Although I wasn't in the actual military, I knew I represented something great. | Source

History Becomes the Present

Growing up, my parents celebrated Fourth of July and I looked forward to the events around town, especially thrilled whenever we could watch the fireworks. I knew what the celebration was all about but didn't feel a deep understanding for it.

Then, high school happened. At the start of freshmen year, a bunch of my friends joined the Junior Reserved Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program. What did I do? I jumped on the band wagon and joined, too. Like so many high school students, I wanted to find a place to fit in and belong, to be a part of something. I joined several clubs and organizations which I believe is the secret to stay out of trouble as a teenager!

JROTC and its clubs within the program is what grew on me and ended up fitting me perfectly like a snug, solid glove. I embraced it, first being a good follower to eventually graduating proudly among the leaders of the program.

Looking back, I didn't expect that. I was just a kid trying to find somewhere to belong but I think of it now as something that found me, molded me into who I am today. It taught me more than military values but life skills that I was able to use in college and beyond. I had a greater appreciation for those who wore the uniform. I remember wearing the uniform and sometimes going out in public where I would be mistaken as a real military officer. I'm sure I looked too young to be in the military but the uniform was pretty convincing! I would correct them but felt honored.

One day during school I was wearing the uniform for inspection day. I will never forget that day. The news broke out; history was being made. It was the horror of 9/11. We were told to take off our uniforms just to be safe. I was in shock like many of my teachers and peers. It was hard to grasp the events as real and harder to realize that something like that happened during my time, something that I was only supposed to read about in history books.

That day wasn't something on the meaningless pages; the events and names were not facts to memorize for a paper or test or our next JROTC drill meet. The bad guys were real because I could feel and not just read about the devastation they caused. The events were not yet history, they were my present life, forever engraved in my mind. The heroes were not people who have died years ago, they will be forever engraved in my heart. They were people who sacrificed their lives for our current generation, some who I knew who sat with me in those same class rooms, neither of us yet knowing that they would be among the brave to shed their blood for us after high school was over.

Children and Traditons

During holidays like 4th of July, I want to teach my children the importance of what it all means and to carry on the traditions of celebrating.
During holidays like 4th of July, I want to teach my children the importance of what it all means and to carry on the traditions of celebrating. | Source

My History Lesson - Holding it Close to My Heart

For some of us, that long ago was not so long ago...it still feels like yesterday sitting in class...

I can't help but to appreciate events and holidays like Independence Day. Long ago, there were many of our own who were brave, courageous and honorably sacrificed their lives so that we could celebrate our freedom, enjoy barbecues with our loved ones and watch firework shows.

On my wedding day, I couldn't help but to have a bit of a heavy heart and feel grief. A fellow former JROTC student I knew was being buried that same day because he served in the war, a war that began during our high school days. He was killed. Sacrifice. That word holds so much more meaning now that I can fully understand it; now that I have lived through a war. A day that should have held nothing but joy for me also pained me to know someone, a real hero of my time, was being bid farewell by loved ones. Also, one of my bridesmaids couldn't attend because she was burying a family member, too who eventually died from a sickness caused by the fumes when he was rescuing others during the 9/11 attack. I know several more peers who gave a part of themselves to that bit of history and I appreciate them all because for those are heroic acts.

These events and people I know or knew are not words I learned on the pages of an old history book. They are lessons close to my heart that do not require studying nor memorizing.

I am now more grateful and proud to watch the fireworks that light up the night sky, blazing bright colors, smiling as my kids look on with awe in their eyes. I sometimes still have the urge to stand at attention out of habit from those four years in JROTC as I press my hand against my chest for the pledge.

Let's continue to teach our children and future generations the meaning of those thunderous booms from fireworks, to embrace the shattering sparks and to hold the meaning behind these holidays close in their hearts.


BNadyn 2013

How do you celebrate Independence Day? What does it all mean to you? Share in the comments below!

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  • BNadyn profile image
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    Bernadyn 4 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida

    OpiePride, thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  • BNadyn profile image
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    Bernadyn 4 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida

    Thank you, jabelufiroz! Enjoy your day :)

  • jabelufiroz profile image

    Firoz 4 years ago from India

    Great hub BNadyn. Voted up and useful.