Growing up as a young child I remember the 4th of July as a time that meant spending time at with grandparents, parades, music, people, watermelons, new adventures, and of course, fireworks! The very first time I saw fireworks I think I cried from the loud bangs, but, as most young boys, I soon came to love the annual pyrotechnic shows. I even studied them and learned the names of the different types of fireworks.
This view of the 4th of July started changing, however, when I began interviewing World War II veterans for my documentary, For the Love of Freedom, when I was 20 years old. Listening to them recount stories of how they stormed beaches in the South Pacific, flew bombing raids over Berlin, or held a dieing friend in their arms, I started appreciating the freedoms I have as an American.
A Japanese American who served in the US Army during WWII once told me, “I think too many people expect that freedom is their right. It’s not a right, it’s a privilege.”
This weekend Americans will be enjoying cookouts, family & friends, fun with the kids on Slip-’n-Slides, outdoor concerts, parades, and fireworks. But let’s not forget what we are celebrating and remember to teach our children the history of those who 65+ years ago fought on foreign soil to protect our freedoms.
As the Worthington Foundation is preparing to announce the dates and prizes of the iHistory WW2 video competition, I’m reminded of what President John F. Kennedy said, “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces, but also by the men it honors and by the men it remembers.”