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A roundup of news on sporting events, people and places in Southeast Michigan by columnist Jim Evans.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Have a great Fourth of July

Ever been to Arlington National Cemetery?
It’s a solemn place; both incredibly beautiful and immensely disturbing. Row after row of simple headstones. More than 300,000 in all. Each at close quarters and all standing at attention. A salute toward heaven perhaps? The cemetery’s rolling hills are dotted with trees, monuments and gardens. There are 624 developed acres and they all serve the same purpose.
What about Vietnam Veterans Memorial with its deeply affecting black granite wall? Engraved in it are the names of thousands of men and women whose lives ended way too soon.
The World War II Memorial? It honors all of those who served in the armed forces, including the more than 400,000 who died. It also recognizes the war effort on the home front and is located on the National Mall’s central axis in Washington D.C.
There’s a man in my neighborhood who is a veteran of the Korean war. He has a "Freedom Isn’t Free" bumper sticker on his van.
Truer words have never either been spoken or written. We’re still losing some of our best and brightest. Lance Cpl. Steven Stevens II of Detroit was killed by a rocket-propelled grenade when his platoon was ambushed while on patrol in Afghanistan. His funeral was held Monday afternoon at Hope United Methodist Church in Southfield. A husband, father and Marine, Stevens was 23 years old.
All of the above might be something to consider while biting into your third hot dog at the Fourth of July picnic. Or before slipping your left leg into a burlap sack as you get ready for the start of the three-legged race. Or as you wipe the yolk from the front of your T-shirt after yet another failed attempt to win the egg toss.
Maybe you are heading to the Tigers’ game against the Twins at Comerica Park Wednesday. Or going to Metro Beach or Kensington Park for a day of relaxation.
The Fourth of July is also known as Independence Day. But for most of us, it’s only acknowledged as a day of independence from work.
I guess it is human nature to forget the significance of holidays. But at the very least we should all take time to reflect on what we have, thanks largely to the sacrifices of others.
That reflection is especially important now when more and more of us are feeling sorrier and sorrier for ourselves because maybe we’re not making as much as we used to or we’re driving a car that’s nearly 10 years old or that is hamburger on the grill and not a sirloin steak.
The Fourth of July celebrates our independence. During the American Revolution, the separation of the 13 colonies from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776. After voting for independence, Congress turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence. The wording of the document was approved on July 4.
That independence was earned through the blood and tears of countless people. It has been preserved in the same way, too. I know Memorial Day is a time to remember the ultimate sacrifices of the military men and women. Veterans Day also honors those who have served.
To me, it’s hard to separate the three. Our freedom and continued independence comes from those who have fought for this country. It doesn’t matter if it was at Yorktown, Saipan or Afghanistan.
Have a great Fourth of July. Go on, inhale another hot dog. Take another helping of baked beans and another chunk of red velvet cake. Just remember what my neighbor’s bumper sticker says. Freedom definitely is not free.


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