Independence – What would you do if you didn’t have it?

As its July 4th, Independence Day, this week in the United States, I sit back and think of how many people don’t even think about having independence. People today just think it’s a given that it’s there and don’t think – what would their life be like if they didn’t have it? 

Governments - Independence versus Communist Rule

As the United States has celebrates its 237th birthday, did you know that this special day wasn’t a federal holiday until 1870? Yes, that’s correct! Congress didn’t make it a holiday until 1870, but wasn’t a paid holiday until 1941. Unbelievable but true. Then there are some other people that say that America wasn’t anactually independent until August 2, 1776. Why is this? This is because the Declaration of Independence wasn’t fully signed until August 2nd.  Then why does America celebrate it on that day? It’s because Congress, in a closed session, actually passed the wording of the document, The Declaration of Independence, on that day and only 3 people (Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin), to my knowledge, signed it.

On the other hand, those who live in Communist Rule countries know little about the Independence that the US forefathers wrote about.  Some people, who live there, don’t think about what they could be gaining (freedom of speech to name just one freedom) by not living in their country, and that’s because they are used to living this way and that’s fine by them. Much of what they say and do in these regions of the world is controlled by the government. Some people can and do like living this way and others who are tired of living this way move to countries which they do have their independence.

History IS important

In fact, back in the late 1800’s many people immigrated from one of these countries to places like the US. My ancestors were many of them that took this time to leave the countries of their birth and moved to a country, as young as it was, showed what they considered safer, secure and more of a promise than the one they knew. One of the common says “Stay with the evil you know or the devil you don’t know” comes to mind. For some, this was a huge change for them as they left everything they knew and loved behind – including loved ones.
I know from speaking to my grandmother, who immigrated to the US when she was a young girl, that she didn’t know what to expect but knew it had to be better than what they were living in. Then she saw the Statue of Liberty and said that it was huge and beautiful she knew that she was finally safe. I didn’t entirely understand what she was saying, until this year when I started to research the conditions when she left Poland with her mother and meet up with her father after they cleared Ellis Island. Recently, I spoke to my father about them coming to the US, and it opened my eyes to exactly what the family went through before they arrived at Ellis Island and my respect went up another notch.  If only I could have been a bit older to completely understand when my grandmother was alive, I could have sat there talking to her for days.

As for which government is better, is a bit of a mix feeling and thoughts when I sat thinking about it. In a way both are pretty good with the government being a large mother and father to the people rather than the mother and fathers of the independent state being the ones to regulate what happens. That being said, I don’t feel I could probably live with a government dictating to me what I could and could not do.

That being said, with the recent privacy issues being released by Edward Snowden, regarding the government’s surveillance, people are concerned about this issue. I’ve heard and read about people saying it goes against laws and liberties and what makes the US the US. This I can understand, however, this has happened before – remember back in World War 2? – and it goes along those lines, I believe, the government is taking this stand.

In the past nearly 10 years, we have had 3 major buildings terrorized, countless near attacks and recently the Boston Marathon bombing. If you think back to what you felt each time these things
2013 Boston Bombing
happened, is the reasoning behind why the government is trying to do the surveillance that they are. Do I like it? No, however, I understand that when I was calling into the US from Australia, I knew there were people listening in as you can hear the clicks and hesitations that tell me someone else is on the line but I know if that’s what they have to do to keep my friends and family safe, then that’s what they do. My life is not that exciting for them to listen into, but if they want to be extremely bored by my life then leave them to it. Because compared to what my grandmother and great grandparents went through, a few listening in clicks are a lot better than having someone I love killed by someone that they could have stopped.
My grandmother, Jean, in the 1980's.

So this week when you think of the US and their free liberties, also think of those who don’t have those liberties. Some of them want those liberties but don’t have the means or will power to get them unlike my ancestors. Each year when this holiday comes around, I think of what my grandmother’s face would have looked like as she sailed past the Statue of Liberty and how she felt so safe and NEVER give that up – NEVER give up my US citizenship. I did make that promise and I WILL keep it because it means even more now, today, then it did when she asked me to give that promise. 
secure that she asked me, her granddaughter, before her death to promise and swear that whatever I did in life, to

So what will you think about on this day of Independence?


Remembrance – what’s in a word?

When someone says remembrance, what do you think of? Some think of soldiers who have fought, so we can be free. Others think of their loved ones who have passed and whom they miss and others just say, “So what? It’s just a word?” or is it just a word?  When you take a look at the word remembrance, I find that it is such a small word for the feelings and emotion that it brings to some of us.  In which group do you find yourself falling into? 

When I was growing up, I was in the “So what? It’s just a word” group. However, once I started thinking, learning and feeling I started a journey that has brought me across all of these groups one by one. Where am I now in this journey? I’m across them all I have to say. Why you may ask? This is what this blog post is about. 

Remembrance of those who have fought for us to be free

When I was in my teens and 20’s, I started to understand little by little just what these soldiers in all shapes and forms have done for us and some have paid the ultimate sacrifice of their lives. This was a difficult understanding for me, as I was a US Navy brat growing up. I felt we were all given the short end of the stick when it came to the people who served.  It seemed to me that all we (as military brats) received was a parent (or in today’s world – parents) gone most of the time, when they were around we were either ignored or told to be quiet or put to work. Even when there was a public holiday or after a day when they were away from work, we “lost” them to parades or committees. 

J. Sherman (Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army Air Force)
my mother's cousin who died in World War 2
On the flip side, once I learned about my mother’s cousin, who paid the ultimate sacrifice in World War 2, I understand why soldiers do what they do. Now every time there is a time of silence, I think about why they went into the service and what the ones, who never returned to us, must have been feeling in those last moments.

So, yes, we may be military brats, but we are also the ones that are there to support and remember the ones who are never to return to us for making that ultimate sacrifice. We must think not only of the soldier that have made that sacrifice but those of us who are there to support and grasp what little time we do get with them even as hard as it may be.  Think about it - if we didn’t have those soldiers to make those sacrifices, where would we be today as the country you may live in and as you as a person?

Loved ones who have passed and whom we may miss

We all have lost someone that we love. Whether it’s a close family member or someone that we might not have known we all still do remember or think of what they could have been like.  There are people who are gone, and we sit there and ask over and over again, why him and not someone else. Then there are others that are gone that you wish you could have back just for the tiniest moments to get a hug, some advice, or find out what their life was like. Unfortunately, the time for all these things is in the past, but that doesn’t make remembering them any different.

The headstone of my grandfather, Louis, 
and his sister, Florence, near New Windsor, NY.
Now as I’m getting older, I’m finding myself ask questions about the ones who have passed whom I may and may not have known. By researching my family history, on all sides, I’m finding I keep asking myself, what would that person have been like? Would they have been someone everyone liked or were they an abusive person (either mentally or physically) in which their own children couldn’t even stand?  Couple that with history of the different countries and governments, and after a while, you could really start to understand why people could have been like they were but keeping in mind things may not have been as they have seemed. Remember it’s only been in the last 20 or so years, that people don’t keep up appearances as they once did. Further, things that were socially acceptable over 20 years ago are not so acceptable now – and vice versa.

In my thoughts at this point in the year, my remembrance meaning is about what we, as a couple, have lost personally. If I had been able to carry to term, we would have a 10 year old child this week. It does seem hard to believe, but it would have been a fact. It came down to the simple fact that either both of us would not have survived or only one of us. The fact is I was the one that ended up
surviving because the baby was in the wrong spot. As with the other loved ones who have passed, I sit here thinking about what would the baby been like – it’s personally, looks, and character. This is something we will never know, because that baby, child, tween has never been born unfortunately. This is where my thoughts are this week in regards to remembrance. Does that make any less meaningful than the other loved ones that have passed? No, but to me, it is something we’ll never have, my husband and I, with this baby.

In closing, recently I asked people on my Facebook account what the word remembrance means to people on there, I had the responses of:

  • Someone's life, memories
  • Funerals and lives lived
  • After someone has died, thinking back appreciatively about all the good things they have done in their lifetime
  • Slouch hats, the last post, medals

All of which I have covered here in this blog entry. Remembrance is what you bring of it and that’s a lot like life – we can sit there and remember but we also have to get out and live life – both those who have lived and who now live would want us to do that, but there come times when we just have to stop and take a break and to remember them. If we don’t, some of life’s lessons may get overlooked. I know when the end credits roll for me (as the George Strait song goes) I want people to think of me more along the lines of hero rather than villain.