Before becoming a Vietnam Vet I admit that I did take America for granted. While I was aware of the two world wars and Korea they really didn’t register that much with me because no one in our family had been in those wars.

Family members were either to young or too old to serve. I was the only lucky one to be the right age during the Vietnam draft.

Wake Up Call

Going to another country and seeing how people in those nations live compared to how you live is a pretty enlightening wake up call.

Imagine how excited we were when we finally got ice in our mess hall.

I had never been out of the US before and barely out of my hometown. So the whole culture shock gave me a new found appreciation for my own homeland.

I remember getting off the plane in Hawaii on our way back home and kissing the ground. Well, the blacktop actually. It was a ritual of sorts.

Holiday Commercialization

As a businessperson I’m often conflicted over commercialism and the meaning of holidays. Perhaps many people in America think like I used to.

If America is all you’ve ever known there isn’t a lot of appreciation as to how it got this way. You don’t have a comparison. It’s your normal.

Almost every holiday has become commercial in some way. July 4th is cookouts and float trips and fireworks.

Christmas is trees and presents, Easter is eggs and bunnies. There are Memorial Day Sales, Mother’s Day Sales, Father’s Day Sales, and we all know about Black Friday.

Thanksgiving is more about food than giving thanks.

While we fly the flag on the 4th do we really think about something as serious as fighting an actual war for our independence?

That people actually died so we can enjoy our cookouts and float trips and parades?

I wonder how many of us actually read or ponder about the decisions that have been made over the last 240 years that brought us to today.

Thanks to the United States the world has advanced more in our 240-year history than all previous generations did in 2,400 years.

That’s pretty amazing when you think about it. You could even make a very strong case that the most amazing advancements have been made in just the last 50 years.

Some Final Thoughts

I try to hang the stars and stripes out every morning. Weather permitting. But it carries a little more weight with me on July 4th.

Having seen war up close and personal I do think about how lucky I am to have won life’s lottery. I was born a United States citizen.

I left Vietnam in January of 1967 — forty-nine years ago. From that day on all holidays have meaning for me because I am here to celebrate them when so many are not.

While I might be guilty of taking advantage of the sales I always remember the reason for the season, and why we celebrate the days we do.

Someone or some people did great things and made great sacrifices and we are reaping the benefits of their actions.

Holidays should have special meaning to all of us. Maybe that’s why that hot dog tastes just a little better on the fourth than it does on the fifth.

Comments below.

More From KMMS-KPRK 1450 AM