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EDITORIAL: Pack up a big picnic for July 4th

"You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. 

You may think you have overeaten,

but it is patriotism."

~ Erma Bombeck

For most of us, there is a bit of national pride when our nation's birthday comes around each July. It isn't all about picnics and evening fireworks.

We like the fact that the United States remains the leader of the free world. We like the fact that, when push comes to shove, Americans do their best to help the oppressed and beat back those who seek to rule with an iron fist. We like the fact that, when we go to bed at night, the vast majority of us aren't worried that death lurks just outside the front door.

When you look back over the 236 years of our nation's history, it's clear that Americans have done much in an effort to make the world a better place. There have been more than a few moments in history when our nation and its leaders have messed up. But, for the most part, steady progress has been made with each passing year.

It's easy to criticize and downplay the important role our nation, our military and our citizens play at home and throughout the globe. It's even easy to question why we've spent so much money and time influencing events in other parts of the world, especially considering recent economic woes that make tax dollars more scarce than when the economy was booming.

Still, when you evaluate our collective motivation to promote what is right, this country continues to stand as a shining example of what humankind can accomplish if guided by the right principles and appropriate morals.

As we celebrate the Fourth of July this week, eat all the potato salad you can muster and toss the Frisbee a few times. But also take a moment to reflect on this great country and how blessed we all are to call it home.