Happy 4th of July!

The lawns are mowed and the flowers look gorgeous! This is what I wait for all winter long – SUMMER! The sun is out and the food is prepared. Families all over our country are getting together for barbecues and – yes – overeating! Later there might even be fireworks as the babies snuggle into their parents arms and the older children spread out on the blankets looking up into the sky. This is what I expect. This is what I have experienced. This happens in America!

In other parts of the world, people are struggling. Others are working to make sure that their families stay together. Some are just trying to make sure that everyone has enough to eat. Most of us here in the United States have not had to worry about that in our lifetime. Not too long ago, however, my grandparents were small children getting off of the boat as immigrants. Their parents were pretty sure that if they worked hard, they could make a good life for their family in the United States. It was the American dream. Is it possible that this is what immigrants from other countries are still trying to do today? Is it possible that not all – in fact most – are not criminals but are people trying to protect their families?

World Refugee Day was on June 20th. The website says the purpose is to “commemorate the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees all over the world." I urge you to go to the website and read about Majid from Iraq. He dreams of a good education for his children. Read about Clara from Colombia. She dreams of becoming a soccer player. Elizabeth is from South Sudan. She hopes to become a doctor. Who knows – she might discover the cure for cancer. These people are not criminals. They want a better life – a better chance. Much like my grandparents and their families. www.unhcr.org/refugeeday/us

There was an interfaith conference in Washington, D.C. in February. The purpose was to provide a day of focused dialogue among young DC area leaders from a variety of faith traditions. Isn’t it time to have a conversation about what we have in common and not focus on the difference? In a New Year’s address, Pope Francis called upon global leaders to offer more assistance in 2018 to refugees. He paid tribute to those who have made “long and dangerous” journeys in an attempt to achieve a better future. (CNN; January 2018; Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Livia Borghese.)

Immigrants in the military have a wonderful history. Some of America’s greatest heroes were foreigners. I think of Lafayette. He was pivotal for the Americans in the Revolutionary War. He thought of himself as one of the earliest adopted sons of America. Immigrants have served in the ranks of the United States military in every major conflict. In 2016 there were approximately 511,000 foreign born veterans living in the U.S. (Jeff Mason; 8/16/2017)

Today – July 4, 2018 – I uplift, thank and pray for all those in the military who have served and continue to serve our country. I am having a barbecue with my family. I am eating great food – all of my favorites. I am enjoying the beautiful weather on my own patio. I do all this because of those who care enough to stand up and serve my country – those born in the United States and those that are foreign born. They have and continue to make all of this possible. God Bless you and God Bless America.

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