I hope all my readers had a safe, happy and fun Independence Day yesterday!
My family had a really neat day – but it was unlike any Independence Day – or any national holiday for that matter – that the Hubs and I had ever experienced.
You see, Pete and I are used to doing the “all American thing” on the 4th of July: BBQ with family, neighbors or friends; iced cold watermelon and even colder beer; cooling off poolside, and of course watching fireworks.
But this year, we actually didn’t do ANY of those things – for the first time ever. We didn’t BBQ, we didn’t get around to eating watermelon or drinking beer. And we didn’t even watch any fireworks. Felt a bit strange.
The reason we didn’t do any of those things was we decided to help cook and serve a BBQ dinner to 250 wounded warriors at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, MD.
The Federal Association of the Knights of Malta (a lay organization in the Catholic Church whose charism is service to the sick and the poor) was given last minute permission to host their second annual BBQ at Walter Reed for wounded warriors in residence there. Since my husband is a candidate in formation to become a Knight of Malta next year, he received the email asking for volunteers to come help serve our country’s bravest.
Pete and I decided this was something we’d really like to do for Independence Day this year. We were tasked with making baked potatos for the special dinner. So, instead of relaxing poolside or enjoying a BBQ, we spent the morning in our kitchen washing, wrapping in foil, and baking more potatos than I ever thought I’d see in my kitchen.
It became a family affair. Mark stayed by my side “helping” as I covered potato wash duty. And he didn’t leave his Daddy’s side while Pete wrapped each spud in tin foil before we baked them. It was really fun to see my boys work in the kitchen together.
The highlight of our trip to Walter Reed for the Hubs and I was feeling like we were doing something – albeit something very small – to say “thank you” to those who make Independence Day in our country a reality, year in and year out.
The highlight for our son Mark was driving by the Walter Reed emergency entrance and seeing all the big ambulences, and then driving by the Walter Reed fire department (TWICE – what a good Daddy Mark has) to see all the big red firetrucks.
By the time we got home last night, we were too tired to start BBQ-ing, so we ate a very non-traditional 4th of July dinner and crashed on the couch with a movie instead of heading out to fireworks.
But you know what? It was one of the most memorable national holidays I’ve ever had. It put life and our freedoms in perspective.
I hope that on future holidays, my little family can get involved in more service opportunities. I imagine that as our boys grow up, serving wounded warriors on Independence Day could become a valuable life lesson for them.
Reflecting on our day yesterday, I’m left with a grateful heart for all those who serve the beautiful country I call home…and especially thankful for the Wounded Warriors who’ve given so much so that we can be free.