Countless numbers of Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice so that we may be free and enjoy the blessings that freedom ensures.
Those blessings are celebrated annually on Independence Day.
While we show our appreciation to the veterans with parades, speeches and firework displays, as we spend time with loved ones, visiting, eating, traveling the roadways of this great nation of ours, let not those sacrifices be in vain.
To what purpose would our heroes have given their lives if we foolishly risk our own lives on this holiday?
Why would anyone find it necessary to drink alcoholic beverages and then operate a boat or motor vehicle, even an all-terrain vehicle?
No one would do so if he or she stopped to think of the potential for tragedy, the chance of arrest and the associated costs. No one would risk the possibility of a boating or automobile accident, with its loss of the vehicle, and quite probably injury or loss of life of the operator, passenger or passengers of another vehicle.
Would anyone in his or her right mind use a weapon, firing into the air just to make noise, with the very real risk of the bullet striking someone nearby or even miles away?
Is it worth the chance of drowning just to swim in dangerous waters or while intoxicated? Is the life of one precious child worth turning away from the pool or ocean for just one second to answer the telephone?
Would anyone risk food poisoning to leave the potato salad out just one more hour?
Is the time saved by driving over the speed limit worth the hours that may be spent in grief?
Of course not.
There is not a parent or grandparent anywhere who would suggest these activities are worth the risk that they involve. Yet many will indulge in them all the same, almost without thought.
That thoughtlessness is the issue.
If we think of the sacrifices made so that we might be free to make those decisions, poor or otherwise, we might make them more carefully.
We urge each and every American to do the right things this holiday.
Don't drink and drive or boat. Wear seat belts and use child safety restraints. Don't speed. Exercise all due caution around water, be it in pools, rivers or the Gulf.
Keep food safety in mind during the spate of picnics and parties that are held this time of year.
Watch the weather and react appropriately. Use fireworks with caution, or better yet, leave the use of large fireworks to the professionals, taking advantage of area municipalities' shows.
Keep it a safe and happy holiday, one that marks the independence of this nation and the sacrifices that help keep it independent, not the anniversary of a tragedy.