July 4 on the White House Lawn


July 4th on the White House Lawn

In this millennium year of 2000, we were fortunate enough to be invited to watch theThe President and Mrs. Clinton on the balcony fourth of July fireworks from the White House lawn.

It was exciting to pass through the iron gates, to be cleared by the Secret Service Guards, and to walk through the White House itself to get to the front lawn. From there we could see the Washington Monument with the scaffolding newly removed and we could see the enormous crowd of people packing the central "mall" below. The Marine band played from one of the White House balconies. We sat amidst a crowd of friends and families of those who make the government work on a daily basis.

President Clinton shakes hands with the crowdThe President and Mrs. Clinton had returned from visiting the Tall Ships in New York City earlier in the day. They stood together and addressed the crowd on the front lawn with a message of past and future, and afterwards shook hands with many in the crowd. I have been fortunate to visit countries in North and Central America and in Europe, and have seen enough to know not to take for granted our many advantages. When the fireworks began, all of these thoughts came together to remind me how truly blessed are we who live in this great country.

I remembered that freedom is not free and thought of the many lives given and sacrifices made in our 200 plus years as a nation. I thought about how it is the freedom ofThe White House at night individuals that combines to yield greatness in a democracy. A sense of gratitude and appreciation came over me. Despite the faults and foibles of our nation, it is nonetheless a great nation. I felt at that moment a powerful connection to our history and the often difficult path it has followed to bring us to where we stand today. I realized that it will take the work of all of us to continue the legacy of freedom, strength and growth that has been given to us. A generation hence, I too will be one of those who has walked before. What legacy will I leave? It cannot be taken for granted.

As the fireworks burst lighting the night sky, an excited little boy behind me exclaimed to his mother, "Oh Mom, this is the best day of my life!" I thought to myself, "Son, how fortunate we are to be in a place where many such days are possible for everyone of us."

John Rothe, President      
US Boomers Corporation

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